Category Archives: The New Press

Book Review: Making Love by Jean-Philippe Toussaint

Title: Making Love
Author: Jean-Philippe Toussaint
Publisher: The New Press
PP: 114 Pages
Genre: Literary Fiction, Translation
Price: $19.95
ISBN: 9781565848535
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Making Love is based on a classic theme: The end of an affair. There have been so many stories and tales and novels set on this theme, that I actually do not know/have lost track of them. The one I vividly remember is “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene and that always stands out in my memory for its brilliant writing and excellent emotional scenes as laid out. For me, I guess the next is going to be Making Love.

Making Love chronicles the death of the affair in Tokyo. It enriches what could be a typical and conventional story. However, it is Toussaint’s writing that makes it what it is – brilliant, edgy and filled with sentiments that do not make the reader sentimental.

Toussaint’s descriptions, in particular—of sterile contemporary hotels (“no noise anywhere, just the purring of the air-conditioning”), the bleak spaces of an art museum, and impersonal trains—suggest that the world the lovers are visiting has reached, like their affair, a similar dead end. The anonymous narrator begins his account as he and Marie, a dress designer and artist invited to Tokyo to show her clothes and her art, settle into their hotel room after the long flight from Paris. As he describes how their affair began, he also offhandedly remarks that he has a bottle of hydrochloric acid with him, which he hints he might throw at Marie. This acid is almost a third protagonist in the story as the narrator carries it with him or ponders using it.

It is till the end that the reader does not know the decision of the anonymous narrator – what is he going to do with the acid and why is what keeps the story going as well. What did I like about the book? The pace, the storyline, the choice of words which were minimal and yet exact. Every emotion in its place – not overdone at all, thought the danger of that was lurking in the shadows and yet the authors’ restraint is brilliant.

Making Love is one of those novellas that need to be read in the quiet and peace of your room. When the outside temperature is just right and you are snuggled in bed. That’s exactly how I read it and yes I loved it.