- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; Third edition (1 Mar. 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1564783723
- ISBN-13: 978-1564783721
- Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 535,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Television Paperback – 1 Mar 2005
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"Toussaint is an original and significant writer, whose fiction can be as engaging as it is surprising." --Times Literary Supplement
"Its studied neutrality turns out to conceal impressive intelligence, deep-seated metaphysical anxiety and real passion. The Bathroom is a powerful, sympathetic debut." --London Review of Books
"Darkly comic." --New York Times
About the Author
Jean-Philippe Toussaint is the author of seven novels, including The Bathroom and Monsieur, both of which have been published in English translation. His work has been compared to that of Samuel Beckett, Jacques Tati, Ivan Oblomov, and the films of Jim Jarmusch.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Like Toussaint's novels _Monsieur_ and _The Bathroom_, Television is about a rather pathetic everyman-sort of protagonist. He gives up television (or so we think?). He can't begin to get past the first two words of his Titian monograph. He hangs out with his friend John Dory. He visits an art museum. He swims at a nude beach. John Dory and the protagonist take an airplane ride over the city. His neighbors are away on holiday, and they would like him to water their houseplants. He can't quite remember to do that. Ostensibly on a plant-watering trip, he watches television in their home, and rationalizes that he never meant to give it up completely (what if the Olympic 100M dash were televised, and he wished to watch that 10 seconds of broadcast? should he deny himself that? a measly 10 seconds?).
Toussaint's protagonist seems very likeable, very anti-heroic, and very human: warts, foibles, and all. The musings on television (as passive entertainment, as constant companion, as whatever) are not tiresome at all. They are a welcome complement to the plot, such as it is. Among Toussaint's special gifts is a reserve, a distance that he places between himself and the actions of his characters and scenes. At the same time, the minutiae of those scenes are vividly realized.
_Television_ is very funny, and it is quite well written.
Toussaint has become one of my favorite novelists. Highly recommended.
Toussaint's book is amusing at times, as when the writer runs into the man who gave him his grant money at a nude beach. And Toussaint writes very well about his narrator's failure to write:
"Sitting on the couch in the living room, I then began to muse on the little problem that had been occupying my mind on and off for what would soon be three weeks, which is to say the name I should give Titian in my monograph, and I tried to console myself for not having made a definitive choice by observing that, paradoxically, what would truly have justified the accusation of avoiding my work and enjoying an easy summer in Berlin would surely have been settling straight down to write without fully considering the question of the artist's name, and that in fact I had every reason to be pleased with myself for having, in a spirit of scholarly scrupulousness and perfectionism, maintained myself for nearly three weeks in a state of perpetual readiness to write, without taking the easy way out and actually doing so."
The best and funniest part of the book by far, however, is the drama connected with the narrator's agreement to water his neighbors' plants while they're away, a task he sees to with the assiduity he applies to his writing.
But for the most part the book drags, with a great number of episodes that don't seem to have much point to them except to underline that the narrator still isn't writing (e.g., the flight around Berlin, the trip to a museum). The book is short, but I found myself wishing it was shorter, or that a larger percentage of it had to do with watering plants.
-- Debra Hamel