If the title is clearly reminiscent of Counter news, by Jean-Marie Gourio, collections of projections and jokes captured daily in bistros and bars, is that similar existences are there to see or guess. No longer through words, but through attitudes and behavior. First in the perimeter of a square, where we meet and observe each other. Then, in the reduced space of the apartments where we are now confined. Twenty-six characters thus populate this novel, with no other link than their presence in the same place, then the same confinement between their respective walls. Entering then, by the sole logic of their successive appearances, in the ephemeral relationship which constitutes them in society and gives meaning to this new romantic enterprise.
As an epigraph, Sylvie Germain has chosen to quote Simone Weil, on silence, loneliness in the midst of the world, and Philippe Jaccottet, on the piercing gaze. A philosopher and a poet also a writer and translator. Way of circumscribing its subject and situating its ambition. Those who move around or have stopped in the square, some with a first name (Joséphine, Guillaume, Anaïs …), others designated by a qualifier (the bizarre, the lost, the similar …), appear here like so many monads applied to follow their singular trajectories. Such as the carer, the retired, the refugee or even the aspiring writer. Taking note of other attendance. Moving in a silent ballet manner. While the story lifts a corner of the veil on their existences, their strengths and their flaws. Nothing less than a masterfully reconstructed piece of the world. Then the pandemic occurs. Everyone at home, when they have one. Confronted with himself.
Interior life, recourse or possible abyss: Sylvie Germain has long distinguished herself as an exceptional writer of the intimate. In a building, improbable encounters take place, solitudes support each other. While, in the street, we have “Other place of confinement than his own body, his skin, his blood”. From the juxtaposition of these twenty-six portraits, a striking picture gradually emerges. Daily life in its most diverse aspects unfolds there. However, the imagination also holds its place there, like certain evenings when the gaze rises towards the full moon, suddenly widening the field of vision. Sylvie Germain, novelist of the human in the profusion of its dimensions.