1/26/13

HHhH by Laurent Binet


Fabrice comes to visit, and talks to me about the book I'm writing. . . . He fixes on the construction of the chapter about the Night of the Long Knives: this series of phone calls, according to him, evokes both the bureaucratic nature and the mass production of what will be the hallmark of Nazism—murder. I'm flattered but also suspicious, and I decide to make him clarify what he means: "But you know that each telephone call corresponds to an actual case? I could get almost all the names for you, if I wanted to." He is surprised, and responds ingenuously that he'd thought I'd invented this. . . . Everyone finds it normal, fudging reality to make a screenplay more dramatic, or adding coherence to the narrative of a character whose real path probably included too many random ups and downs, insufficiently loaded with significance. It's because of people like that, forever messing with historical truth just to sell their stories, that an old friend, familiar with all these fictional genres and therefore fatally accustomed to these processes of glib falsification, can say to me in innocent surprise: "Oh, really, it's not invented?"