Foam of the Daze
L'ecume des jours
By Boris Vian. Translated by Brian Harper.
Raymond Queneau called it the “most poignant love story of our time,” and Julio Cortázar said of its author: “I can’t think of another writer who can move me as surreptitiously as Vian does.” Boris Vian (1920–1959) was a songwriter, trumpet-player, poet, playwright and pataphysician, but is best remembered for his 1947 novel, Foam of the Daze, a jazz-fueled science-fiction romance that mingles bittersweet and surrealist absurdity with a melancholic meditation on the frailty of life. It tells the tale of Colin, a wealthy young dandy, and Chloe, his newly wedded wife who develops a terrible illness: a water lily in her lung. The supporting cast includes Chick, an obsessive collector of Jean-Sol Partre memorabilia; Colin’s libertine manservant Nicolas, a Jeeves for the jazz-age; the philosopher Jean-Sol Partre himself, Vian’s rib-poking tribute to his friend Jean-Paul Sartre and the pianocktail: a cocktail-mixing piano whose individual notes are tuned to liqueurs that mix incredible cocktails. Michel Gondry’s film adaptation of the novel, to star Audrey Tautou, will begin production in 2012.