Self Made Hero logo

Memoirs of a Book Thief by Alessandro Tota and Pierre Van Hove

17 April 2019

Bibliophile, book thief, poet: Daniel Brodin, the troubled protagonist of Alessandro Tota and Pierre Van Hove's Memoirs of a Book Thief, is the perfect literary anti-hero. Like his beloved Arthur Rimbaud, Daniel has escaped a "loathsome" provincial town for Paris - and he's determined to make an impression.

On the evening of 10th April 1953, in the heated atmosphere of the Café Serbier, home to the Parisian literati, one luminary suggests giving the floor to an unknown. Daniel seizes his chance.

memoirs-1.jpg 207.94 KB

Under pressure, he recites not one of his own surrealist poems but an obscure piece of Italian verse he's certain no one will know: "The Shepherd's Bitch".

memoirs-2.jpg 150.57 KB

The audience is enraptured. Offers of publication, invites to literary soirées, promises of meetings with Jean-Paul Sartre: that night, Daniel gets everything he could have wished for. But there's someone else in the room who recognises his recital for what it is is: an act of plagiarism.

But as Daniel anxiously awaits his fate, he discovers another side to literary Paris. For this band of cultured rogues and pseudo-revolutionaries, surrealism is passé, work is for suckers and theft is tantamount to poetry.

memoirs-4.jpg 180.11 KB

In the light of their theories, Daniel's plagiarised recital can be seen as a revolutionary avant-garde act. He has revealed the Parisian intelligentsia for what they are: imbeciles!

memoirs-3-new.jpg 180.36 KB

But Daniel's reinvention of himself as an avant-gardist brings it's own problems. As one act of deception follows another, events take on a momentum of their own and Daniel is swept up in a lifestyle marked by criminal activity and excess.

In Memoirs of a Book Thief, Alessandro Tota and Pierre Van Hove have created an intoxicating coming-of-age story that will make you want to quit your job, drink a gallon of wine and embark on a psychogeographical expedition.