It’s a little book. Stretched like a cable. Guy Boley (SGDL – Société des gens de lettres – prize for his first novel, “Fils du feu”, Grasset, 2016) talks about a meeting with Pierre Michon in 2000, during a bookshop dedication. Boley came to listen to the author of “Tiny Lives” (1984), hailed as one of the most important works of the 1980s, which brings together eight short lives of humble people, who lived and for some died anonymously.
That day, in Dijon, “not a cat”, except Guy Boley. The two men find themselves face to face. Between them, a stack of books. The conversation begins. Each “offered to the other snippets of himself, pieces of his puzzle”. Just like in this present booklet where the two writings are close. Boley addresses Pierre Michon in 2000. Michon replies to him in 2020. The binds a certain form of vertigo. We must create a vacuum, at the risk of losing balance.
Tightrope walker and writer are in concert on the wire. The tightrope walker lives his life in height, “where no one would have the idea to go”: “roofs of buildings or towers, transmission antennas, Breton lighthouses, cathedral ceilings, pitons or poles of all kinds” . Guy Boley confides: the son of a former boxing champion who became a blacksmith, he dabbled in more than one profession – mason, factory worker, street singer, circus director, stuntman, machinist. The collected, precise writing is clearly addressed, in a few pages, to … a “tiny life”. His first readings: “les Contemplations”, by Hugo. “Because I come from the people, from a family to whom the printed matter frightened”. Father’s mania: a “little notebook” always at hand to write down “words that were of no use to him”, those that “we do not know how to catch them”. It also says the freedom of 68 before “each one enters his niche”.
“Quickly, a masterpiece”
Boley is embodied in a raw, hammered tongue. Michon, in return, evokes the precise moment when he was “really in danger for literary reasons”. Nothing will be revealed of this episode, which took place rue Royer-Collard, in the post-68 years, when he aspired not to work, not because of the famous injunction “Do not work”, but because he names a “personal use fantasy”. The only “conceivable” exit: write, “and quickly a masterpiece”. The remembered episode is dark. Michon bounces back thanks to the image of the trampoline. He thanks “Heaven, which has arranged so many trampolines for him”. Then he comes to “Fils du feu” by Boley: “When I met you, I said to myself what I would have said if I had met myself in rue Royer-Collard: this guy will never do. nothing in literature. And then you took action. You danced from pillar to pillar. You wrote “Son of fire”. “And to conclude:” Let’s believe in trampolines. Let’s tell them yes. “