Click here to read reviewer Jaimie Bell's take on The Mystery Guest: An Account.
What is it about the complexities of love and relationships in the way they can make a man, destroy a man, or simply make a man wonder if he is a destroyed man? Such are the inquisitions pondered in this delicate slice of one man’s memory of the toll one woman’s love has taken on him.
Gregoire Bouillier’s second memoir begins on a Sunday afternoon in 1990 with a phone call from an ex-girlfriend who left him heartbroken without a word, not even an explanation, five years before. His immediate thought is, why now? Could it be she has heard of the death of Michel Leiris - “his disappearance had made her reappear”? And why did she have to call when he “was fast asleep and at (his) most vulnerable.” As Gregoire finally allows himself to listen to her she is asking him to a party at Sophie Calle’s as a “Mystery Guest” with no explanations (either for the invitation nor for the breakup).
Such continues the analysis and self-analysis in the buildup to the party, the events of the party, and tidbits of connection from his post-party life. It is full of self reflection, literary context, and general philosophies of life. While it is translated from its original French language, it does not appear that much could possibly be “lost in translation.”
The Mystery Guest is a morsel that begs to be devoured in one sitting. Gregoire Bouillier does a powerful job of showing the often torturous attempts the mind makes in trying to glean sense from the complexities of the heart.