Excerpt: REAL LIFE

Read an excerpt of Real Life by Adeline Dieudonné (translated from the French by Roland Glasser) from our friends at Crime Reads.

One summer evening, my mother had made peaches stuffed with tuna, which we ate on the blue stone terrace overlooking the garden. My father had already left the table to settle down in front of the tv with his bottle of Glenfiddich. He disliked spending time with us. I think nobody in our family liked gathering for the evening meal, but my father imposed this ritual upon us, as much as he imposed it upon himself. Because that’s how things were. A family takes its meals together, whether they enjoy it or not. That’s what we saw on tv. Except that people seemed happy on tv, particularly in the commercials. They chatted, they laughed. They were beautiful and loved each other. Family time was sold as a reward. Along with Ferrero Rocher, it was supposed to be the treat you were entitled to after long hours working in the office or at school. Our own family meals seemed more like a punishment, a big glass of piss we had to drink daily. Each evening proceeded according to a ritual that bordered on the sacred. My father would watch the tv news, explaining each subject to my mother—on the principle that she was incapable of comprehending the slightest bit of information without his enlightenment. The tv news was important to my father. Commenting on the news gave him the impression of having a role to play in it. As if the world depended upon his reflections in order to progress in the proper manner. When the end credits boomed out, my mother would yell: “Dinner’s ready!” My father would leave the tv on, and everyone would sit down to eat in silence. When he got up to return to his couch, we felt something like a liberation. That evening, too, like all the others.

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