I do not often talk about books or literature. But, lately, I had the opportunity to read a little book of stories, signed Michka Saäl. A posthumous book, because the filmmaker, and now author, died shortly before the release of her book.
Obviously, for me, Saäl is a filmmaker who knew how to mark the imagination and seduce the Quebec public. With a soft and poetic voice, she remembers a childhood in North Africa, trapped between the heat of the desert and the mysteries of the sea, while scrolling images of snow and ice from her adopted country.
It is now, thirty years after her first film, as if time had been suspended, that this voice returns in a first book: La lune des coiffeurs. The narrator, her fugue prevented by the sea, succeeds in this book to cross the Mediterranean and find her mother in France. Shocked by her “new” Jewish identity, she grew up, always in search of an identity and her place in the world. Then a second fugue in Israel, a return to France and then Canada, country of refuge where she dreams to her roots. She confided, moreover: “I do not invent anything but what I imagine belongs to me… I would like to rub the memory until it bleeds.”
A different writing
Honestly, after 2 chapters, I did not really like it. Writing seemed risky to me and the sentences, badly constructed. But the more I advanced in my reading and the more I found this way of writing interesting. In fact, it’s very “talking”.
And as we turn the pages, we learn to know the woman behind the pencil, the artist, the fugitive… Discovering this person who gets naked in front of us, we can only feel caught. We come to recognize us in her (yes, even for a Quebec man) and to have the impression that she tells us her story in intimacy.
In the end…
In the end, La lune des coiffeurs is a book of stories that you can read slowly. You take it out, read a few pages and put it away while dreaming about the images that come to mind. Saäl was primarily a filmmaker. And when you read the book, you can feel it. Her words are very visual.
A very beautiful reading!