TamTam Books News

Saturday, July 27, 2002:

The definition of Boris Vian: engineer, inventor, chronicler of jazz, trumpet player, poet and novelist, creator of spectacles, lyric writer and singer, and
of course pataphysician.


TamTam Books is very proud to announce the publication of Boris Vian’s masterpiece 'L’Écume des jours' in fall 2002. We are bringing out a new translation by Brian Harper with the full approval of the Vian estate. The English title is 'Foam of the Daze.'

The translation made by Brian Harper takes into account the critical edition of Boris Vian’s L’Écume des jours edited with additional in depth footnotes by Gilbert Pestureau and Michel Rybalka published in France 1994.

L'Écume des jours (Foam of the Daze) is a jazz fueled Science Fiction story that is both romantic and nihilistic! Vian’s novel is an assortment of bittersweet romance, absurdity and the frailty of life. Foam of the Daze is a nimble-fingered masterpiece that is both witty and incredibly moving. It is a story of a wealthy young man Colin and the love of his life Chloe, who develops a water lily in her lung.

The supporting cast includes Chick, an obsessive collector of noted philosopher Jean-Sol Partre's books and stained pants, and Nicolas who is a combination of P.G. Wodehouse's fictional butler Jeeves and the Green Hornet's Kato. The soul of the book is about the nature of life disappearing and loving things intensely as if one was making love on a live grenade!

This is what other critics say about Vian’s L’Écume des jours (Foam of the Daze):

" (Vian) has been canonized by a whole generation of revolutionary young people…this fantasy of perishing purity is an affirmation of youth and innocence, laced with the biting humor of Jacques Prévert and Ionesco." Newsweek

"The most heartbreakingly poignant modern love story ever written."
Raymond Queneau

"For the last thirty years L’Écume des jours has been the author’s best-known and most widely-discussed work: blending as it does the most light-hearted and playful fantasy with a sense of doom and tragedy that many readers across a wide range of ages and cultural backgrounds have found irresistibly moving, it is a novel that has paradox at its heart."
David Meakin (quoted from his study L’Écume des jours, published by the University of Glasgow)





"When I first read Boris Vian, almost forty years ago, his work was a
revelation to me. It remains so every time I return to it -- as, now, in
this new, hip, fluid translation by Brian Harper."
James Sallis


"L’Écume des jours is full of good things – from farcical religious rites to the obsessions of a bibliophile which turn to fetishism and wreck his life. The set pieces are marvelous, rumbustious, and macabre. This is a tragic love story, a morbid and even a pathological farce. It is a book of failures and closures, and wonderfully destructive."
Adrian Searle (From the British edition of L’Écume des jours)

"In Paris in the 1950s Boris Vian was everything - poet, fiction writer, singer, subversive, actor, musician, and jazz critic. He was my friend and I admired him passionately for his eclecticism, devastating irony, and taste for provocation".
Louis Malle

"I can't think of another writer who can move me as surreptitiously as Vian does"
Julio Cortazar



Foam of the Daze is a novel like no other, a sexy, innocent, smart and sweet cartoon of a world which then begins, little by little, to bleed real blood until, in the end, the blood turns out to be our own. I read it nearly thirty years ago in its previous incarnation as Mood Indigo and I loved it then; it's still one of my favorite books in the whole world.
Jim Krusoe


Boris Vian, who himself had suffered in his childhood from a pulmonary disease wrote the history of Chloe, who dies because a water lily invades her lungs. And then there is Colin, her lover and Nicolas, the brilliant inventor

of the " pianocktail ". Tender and delicate history of love.
Andréï Makine

Who wouldn't want to immerse themselves in THE greatest love story? With
pages that drip with passion, cries, laughter, tears and so forth. Among
the more sober, but magnificent just the same, I recommend L'Ecume des jour by Boris Vian. It begins like a fairy tale but don't panic, you will see
that it won't take long to become something else indeed... First there is
the young, rich and carefree Colin. He, above all, "longs to be in love".
One immediately identifies with this fragile anti-hero yearning for love.
The most important thing for him is his small circle of friends: Chick,
Alise, Nicolas, Isis ...and Chloe. During a party of close friends, he
falls madly in love with her. Everything is great. Colin and Chloe get
married and the world belongs to them. But then this beautiful fury of
life is broken clean. Chloe becomes sick with a poetic disease (even
though Boris Vian doesn't want it). A water lily grows in the lungs of the
beauty and pushes out all the oxygen. Colin becomes responsible and works
but Chloe wilts away incurably. On their side, Chick and Alise had
everything to be happy... if Chick didn't have the filthy mania of
bankrupting himself by buying the works and clothes of a certain Jean Sol
Partre, (a little dig from Vian to the famous existentialist of
Saint-Germain-des-Près). This "partrophagy" pushes Alise to kill Partre.
Only Nicolas and Isis escape a tragic destiny and accompany their friends
to the end. The character's purity and carefree attitude... it's superb!
Catherine Combet (Terminale)

A kind of jazzy, cheerful, sexy, sci-fi mid-20th century Huysmans. Check
it out. There is just no place like France.

Richard Hell

Tosh // 5:12 PM
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