Alex Andriesse On:
Boredom by Sylvain Tesson
A geographer by training, a traveler by calling, a Parisian by birth, Sylvain Tesson has wandered and written about many landscapes, ranging from Calcutta to the Gobi Desert, from Afghanistan to the northern extremes of Russia. He has crossed the Himalayas on foot and the steppes of Central Asia on horseback. He once lived for five months alone in a cabin on the Siberian Taiga, simply because he’d promised himself that, before he turned forty, “[he] would live as a hermit deep in the woods.” He is a writer excited by the possibilities of place.
Like any good nomad, Tesson knows how to pack all that’s necessary and still manage to travel light. He fits enough material for a novella into the two dozen paragraphs of “Boredom”—a story that follows a young woman named Tatiana from her post-college days in Siberia, through a sojourn in Moscow, to a surreal relocation in Provence. Along the way, she’ll meet an English strip-club owner who quotes Baudelaire and E. M. Cioran, and a French television producer with a taste for Flaubert (or at least for beautiful young women with a taste for Flaubert).
Tatiana is a dreamer from a long line of literary dreamers, the daughter of Dostoevsky’s Arkady Ivanovitch and Flaubert’s own Emma Bovary. She is destined to be disappointed by reality. But it’s the keenness of her disappointment that makes her every reader’s secret sharer, and that makes this story such a pleasure to read.