January 24, 2022

David Foenkinos: “The ultimate pleasure is being able to alternate between cinema and literature”

Posted on Jan 14, 2022 at 6:05 am

Has Harry Potter given you a lot of fun in your lifetime?

As in many families, books and films were a moment of sharing with my children. My son, now 19, was not a heavy reader, but he read them all. We saw the films and visited the studios in London together. I will soon rediscover them with my daughter Alice, who is 7 years old. Harry Potter has become a staple of childhood. With his special language, his humor, his fantasy, JK Rowling has created an absolute universe and reconciled a lot of children with books. And his journey is so romantic …

What’s your favorite book?

“Belle du Seigneur”, I discovered it in a bulimia of reading between 15 and 25 years. I had a serious heart operation when I was 16 years old that stuck me in the hospital for months. It was 1991, there was no Internet and I only had books to get out of myself. I then discovered Kundera, Dostoyevsky, Henry Miller, Albert Cohen. I read “Belle du Seigneur” before I was 20, I reread it at 30 and 40. I will do it again at 50. My relationship to everything that this novel evokes, love, wear and tear, melancholy, evolves over time and I perceive it differently each time.

Are you fascinated by John Lennon?

I even dedicated a book to him because I have such an emotional connection with him. From the age of 16, I listened to the Beatles a lot. I was starting the guitar and wanted to play their songs. Then I focused more on Lennon himself. He overwhelmed me with his fragility and fascinated me because of his fusional love with Yoko Ono. Despite the fame, he was permanently in a state of distress. He did not find appeasement until he was 40 years old before being assassinated.

David Foenkinos. A rite: the reading of “Belle du seigneur” by Albert Cohen. An emotional connection: John Lennon.© Mathieu Zazzo for Les Echos Week-End

Between cinema and literature, which art gives you the most pleasure?

The ultimate pleasure is to alternate the two. When I write in bed for months, I miss the sets, but when I start a shoot, I’m surrounded by 50 people and the pressure builds, I dream of folding myself into bed. My greatest pleasure overall remains spending a day alone, reading and writing.

You traveled a lot as a child. What is the place that made you the happiest?

My mother worked for Air France and we got free tickets. So I had a totally schizophrenic vacation, with July in tours in Meaux and August in wealthy places like California. It was cheaper for us to go to Los Angeles than to Dijon. We visited the United States a lot with my parents and my brother Stéphane. It was truly the American dream. I was in the country of Madonna and Michael Jackson, films were released there before France, I discovered wonders like Lake Tahoe. This place is so magical that I miss it when I don’t go there regularly.

Why these references to Poles in all your books?

I wrote a book in my twenties called “Idiocy Inversion: The Influence of Two Poles”. They brought me luck since it was my first work published by Gallimard. Since then, I have included a reference to each novel except in “Charlotte”, the subject of which was too serious. It’s like the Hitchcock appearances, my readers expect.

Right now, what would you like the most?

What I would really like is to keep whatever makes me happy and let go of what weighs me down. To have my life without the problems of my life!

Number Two, Gallimard, 240 pages, 19.50 euros.