Of all the novels released during the season, The delayed heart, Andrew Kaufman’s fifth book translated into French by Alto, is certainly one of the most original and puzzling. Presented as a “crazy learning novel from a forties”, this story, where the author presents reflections on love, offers a sparkling cocktail made up of elements borrowed from the fantastic, from the tale, from science fiction and suspense.
“I don’t believe in the idea of transcendent love. Love is not a redemptive force. He doesn’t bring out the best in us, but the worst. The most cruel things I have done were done in order to win someone’s love, or to avoid losing it, ”he tells Charlie Wakefield who, on the day of his 43e birthday, notes that he still has not recovered from his divorce pronounced two years earlier.
Leaving his mistress’s apartment to go home, he shares an Uber with a man wearing a giant purple hat. The latter then tells him about Metaphoria, a place where anyone who has “something impossible to overcome” is sent. Pouf! Charlie finds himself in this strange city where only an epiphany can bring him back to his home in Toronto. Arrived there, he meets Shirley Miller, an ex-girlfriend, who tears out his heart and puts a bomb in his rib cage. She announces to him that he has 24 hours to find the heart of her husband Vieille Branche.
On ignore ce qu’Andrew Kaufman (All my friends are superheroes, 2013) puts in his coffee to create fanciful universes such as this city where broken hearts roam. It is easy to imagine him being fed on Lewis Carroll’s tales, the novels of Kafka and Vian, as well as the films of Cronenberg.
While we visit with Charlie places with evocative names – the cardiac storage complex To you forever, the Sad Christmas District, the PERTEDETEMPS prison -, we come across Homeric or horrific characters, objects speaking in indecipherable codes and witnessing disturbing metamorphoses, we let ourselves be delighted by Kaufman’s singular humor and assumed romanticism.