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Report on Myself Paperback – 20 Jan 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 161 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Original edition (20 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061896861X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618968619
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,059,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

GREGOIRE BOUILLIER is the editor of a scientific magazine and author of The Mystery Guest. Originally a painter, he published his first book at age forty. He has one daughter and lives in Paris, France..

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars 27 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I was lusting for passion." 27 Dec. 2008
By Erik Olson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Frenchman Gregoire Bouillier has had a colorful and downright strange life according to his "Report on Myself." This review's titular quote, snatched from his pithy and intriguing memoir, sums up the wild, double-edged nature of his existence so far. It's worth a voyeuristic visit.

In each chapter of this short book we drop into a random stage of Mr. Bouillier's life. His supremely dysfunctional parents fight, swing, cheat, and divorce, with the hapless young Gregoire irradiated by the fallout of their actions. I suppose if this were an American family the author would've rammed himself through years of hand-wringing therapy. Indeed some traumas, like his molestation by his older brother, would've rated entire books in our culture. But here that disturbing occurrence only gets a cursory paragraph. C'est la vie, I guess.

A running theme throughout "Report on Myself" is the influence of past occurrences on Mr. Bouillier's present circumstances. For example, as a child he experienced the sudden disappearance of a friend and his family, including the beautiful matron he became smitten with after accidentally seeing her nude. Later in life, one of his loves dumps him by pulling her own vanishing act (we see the aftermath in his other memoir, "The Mystery Guest"). He links events like these together in a synergistic fashion, as if the past was a dry run that equipped him to make sense of present distress. Even certain books, such as Homer's "Odyssey," lend structure to his journey. A little weird, but then again I've coped with reality in a similar fashion, so I'm glad to see that I'm not alone.

The major angst in the author's life results from his stormy romantic relationships. His first adult relationship with a relatively conventional woman bores him, so he gravitates toward a couple of high-maintenance paramours with, ah, issues. Based on the anecdotes about his mercurial mother, a pop psychologist might diagnose a long-running oedipal complex, but I'll leave that to the experts. Whatever the state of Mr. Bouillier's unconscious mind, when it comes to his love life he exults in the highs, endures the lows, and tries to make sense of relational disintegration.

Mr. Bouillier has the ability to make interesting observations by being present in some parts of his life and removed from others. He can take a passionate or uncomfortable moment and plop us down right there with him. Conversely, the author is able to remove himself from an event and dispassionately comment upon it, leaving us to make our own judgments. I found either path intriguing. I'm glad I've avoided some of his pitfalls, but he's certainly had a number of exciting rides that trigger my envy reflex.

At any rate, "Report on Myself" is an intimate look at a man's relationships and how he uses the past to help him make sense of his present. I recommend reading this with "The Mystery Guest," which provides more detail about the aftermath of his stormiest and most affecting romantic relationship.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars creativity as an alternative to madness 21 Jan. 2009
By H. F. Gibbard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Gregoire Bouillier is one of those authors whose almost unbearable sensitivity took him to the edge of madness but who stubbornly refused to give in to the chaos of his inner and outer world. His parents were bohemians who made little attempt to shield him from their disordered sex lives. His mother was suicidal and his father was ambivalent about the family. But Bouillier emerged triumphant from his ordeal, even though it left him on the brink of insanity. Now he turns the sort of self-referential, paleological thinking usually associated with schizophrenic disorders into a playful, almost cheerful autobiographical game of punning with words and coincidences that he shares with us. It's a fun ride, if sometimes a harrowing one.

At times, his frank confessions are quite disturbing. Nowhere is this more true than in his description of the three months he spent on unemployment, sleeping until dawn in stairwells, listening to voices in his head that ordered him to do things, writing obsessively in the margins of newspapers. The report of his mental breakdown is quite depressing, and he could have ended up institutionalized. But Bouillier's soul is made of a sort of rubber that always returns to its natural shape, refusing to be deformed by circumstances. He characteristically bounced back after reading Homer's Odyssey in a single night. In the Odyssey, he found a frame for his own life, a narrative worth pursuing, an existence worth living.

There is one amazing line from this book that sums up his entire life: "my ambition wasn't to exist in this world, but to make a world exist." That sort of existential courage makes his entire account worthwhile.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a mere sketch of an interesting life 16 Dec. 2008
By Aleksandra Nita-Lazar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My feelings about Gregoire Bouillier's quasi-autobiography "Report on Myself" are mixed. I was pleased with the beginning, promising a good story, and I liked his prose, full of memories appearing in a flash. The great French tradition, reminding me of masters such as Colette and Proust, seemed to continue in this little book.

Additionally, the psychological twists and complications in the narrator's family life reminded me of Woody Allen, perhaps because of the times he describes (he was born in 1960). The stories grow wilder and wilder with each page, and the descriptions of Bouillier's love life and his bizarre adventures with his girlfriends become more and more surreal.

I loved his discovery of Odyssey, and how it makes his life and the book rooted in Western Civilization; I was the more interested because of my own cathartic experience with a book, interestingly also about Greece - it was "The Magus" for me...

Unfortunately, I found the book as a whole a little incoherent, the flashes and jumps between different moments of Bouillier's life chaotic, and I was bored with last 10 pages, although the book is tiny. Maybe the problem lies in its size: I felt like it was a sketch, material for a much more voluminous and developed memoir.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'll Blame it on the Translation 14 Jan. 2009
By Rick Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This short book is more of a few sketches of a life than a coherent memoir. Most of the sketches surround the author's women - girlfriends, his mother, a mother of his best friend and a prostitute he only just met (sort of).

There are two elements to the book. There are the recollections of incidents and then his philosophical analysis of those events. The anecdotes were amusing and interesting. The philosophizing was often nearly incoherent. Frequently, I had to just accept that a sentence made no sense either structurally or in context. This may have been, and hopefully was, due to the translation. Thus, there was much lost in the translation.

The anecdotes were amusing enough to keep me plodding through the somewhat rambling material in between but in toto, this book was mediocre.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mystery Guest takes a closer look at himself 3 Jan. 2009
By Charles S. Houser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Gregoire Bouillier's REPORT ON MYSELF provides the harrowing back-story to his highly original and amusing THE MYSTERY GUEST. REPORT opens with an eye-brow raising account of his being conceived when his parents invited an second man to their bed. Gregoire's coloring (dark) suggests that the Algerian intern at the hospital where his mother worked (the invitee) is his real father. This fact is but one clue Bouillier has to work with in his life-long struggle to establish his identity and place in the world. For another dozen pages Bouillier lets his readers believe they are in for a rather outré tale of a wild and unconventional life lived beyond the boundaries, something along the lines of Sterne's TRISTAM SHANDY. But the darker side of his life's story soon emerges. His mother repeatedly threatens suicide, his parents separate for significant periods of time, he is sexually molested by his older brother, and he succumbs to numerous fits of blinding aggression that are clearly more than attention-seeking episodes of acting out behavior. As an adult he experiences a period of homelessness . The intimate relations he attempts as an adult are primarily with damaged and narcissistic women specializing in meting out contempt.

Bouillier does not wallow in his miseries or beg the reader's pity. Neither does he anesthetize himself to their profundity. He is quick to read meaning into events, coincidences, details, and names that would pass most "normal" people unnoticed. The reader is tempted to think Bouillier is being led on by the kind of infantile magical thinking that many powerless and traumatized people take solace in. But his observations are striking and his interpretations cannily believable. Making no reference to God, Bouillier seems to be immersed in a coherent if inexplicable reality that few of us ever get to (or allow ourselves) to see. Bouillier does not see himself as caught in a spiritual struggle, yet it would not be hard to posit that there is a Higher Power who watches over him or that he has experienced many miracles in his life. As he recounts of his time living on the streets and in the doorways of Paris, "I remember a sentence that I tirelessly scrawled on everything I came across, like a talisman I would put up everywhere: `The way was lost along the road; well, then there is a road'" (p. 97). And elsewhere he writes, "Events don't end by themselves as I thought they did but prolong themselves through their consequences, which in turn become events, and so on" (p. 120). What Bouillier has given his readers is French existentialism at its most personal--scary, and inexplicably hopeful.
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