Monday, August 30, 2004

Georges Simenon

Paranoia is both cause and subject of many deeply satisfying cinematic styles: lucid and elegant, (Hitchcock); stylized and explosive, (Scorsese); absurdly debonair (Fellini); florid and witty (Woody Allen); austere and frostbitten (Bergman); murderous and spiked with quotations from Japanese comic books (Tarantino). But movies were not the first medium to offer paranoid enactments as entertainment. And no writer has provided as many scenarios for suspense films — a genre that arguably provides the purest expression of excruciating paranoia — than the great master of unease, Georges Simenon.
An enjoyable profile by Marcelle Clements in the New York Times (free registration required).
The author of more than 400 books, translated into 50 languages, Simenon, who died in 1989, was outsold only by the Bible and the works of Lenin. Certainly, his volubility, his obsessional excess and his sexual weirdness are not in question. He wrote some 80 pages a day, and, to boot, he claimed that he'd had sex with more than 10,000 women — and let's face it, boasting of such a thing is as psychologically outlandish as actually doing it.

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