Un nouvel article sur Ink in the blood (éditions Dedalus) signé Vikki Heaven. Merci à elle pour cette magnifique recension.
"This beautiful little novella came to my attention when I read of review of it by Nicholas Lezard in The Guardian. I knew I wanted to read it; and my word how right I was. This is the first of Hochet’s work to be translated into English, and a masterful translation it is. There is the old adage that something is always lost in translation, but ‘Ink in the Blood’ does not read like something is missing by it not being in the original French. In fact, it reads very much like many other French novelists: deeply existential and darkly philosophical. Hochet is a literary great in the making, and this story fits happily on my shelf next to Kafka.
The plot follows the unnamed male narrator on the journey of his first tattoo. Deeply reverent of the tradition, he want to get it right to honour both the art form and his mortal body. Indeed, he knows that if he ever gets a tattoo it will be a masterpiece of tattoo art linked to his deeper Self. While not specifically looking for a tattoo, his vision takes in his surroundings through the lens of tattoo art, seeing the detail and shading fitting to his vocation as an illustrator, but on the deeper level of an art that lasts as long as ones mortal journey.
He chooses a Latin phrase that is perfectly apt to his sensibilities and has one of the top Parisian tattooists (a friend of his named Dimitri) ink him. He revels in his new art, and feels almost religiously marked out, stepping up his usual womanising in order to have his mark revered and adored by as many as possible. However, his tattoo starts to inexplicably fade and, like a boob-job gone bad, he feels humiliated and ashamed by this development. His psyche is damaged by the corruption of that which reflected his mortal presence, he experiences a decent at once as subtle and as absolute as any in the existential canon. The epitaph from Flannery O’Connor is thus absolutely perfect. Written by the slowly dying writer the quote from ‘Parker’s Back’ is at once the perfect subject matter and author to link with ‘Ink in the Blood’, while the affiliation to O’Connor is one that I’m sure will be made with Hochet throughout her career.
The reader may join the narrator in doubting Dmitri, in wondering if his needles or ink have somehow transmitted a blood disease. But the blood disease the narrator is diagnosed with is much more terrible than a dirty-needle infection – leukaemia. The narrator cannot bring himself to say it, or even treat it, and he overlooks any chance of salvation as taint in his blood consumes him.
I was thoroughly wrapt by this short story, and await more from Hochet with all due anticipation.
Rating 10/10. I consumed this book so quickly that the water didn’t even have a chance to cool!"
Review by Vikki Heaven