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Book Review: Funny, absurd confessions of a window cleaner's husband

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Jakarta | Fri, October 21, 2016 | 01:46 pm
Book Review: Funny, absurd confessions of a window cleaner's husband

The Independent newspaper describes it as ‘funny, poignant and, in places, unexpectedly romantic’, while Le Monde terms it 'absurd, funny and eccentric'. (Shutterstock/File)

There’s love, and then there’s strange love. Sexual desire and love sometimes manifest in different, bizarre ways.

But unconventional doesn’t always mean depraved, nor does it instantly equate to being unhealthy or damaging. Love itself is a mercurial beast that’s as unique as those under its influence; as is protagonist Hector’s case in David Foenkinos’ The Erotic Potential of My Wife.

After a lifetime as a secret hoarder, the outwardly amiable Hector no longer finds solace in his multiple obsessions, and seeks to rid himself of the mania that dominates his life. This is no mean feat considering he’s amassed a sizeable collection of (among other things) cocktail sticks, electoral campaign badges, paintings of moored ships, rabbits' feet, staircase ornaments, the first pages of novels, birds' eggs and hangmen's nooses.

Following a failed suicide attempt, Hector meets Brigitte, whom he falls desperately in love with. They marry and he vows to become a changed man; his passion for love now firmly outweighing his passion for collecting.

(Read also: Why artists die young: A tale of suicide and mental health)

However, old habits die hard, and it’s not long before Hector begins to experience an urge to resume his active amassing. That is until he witnesses Brigitte washing windows—just one glimpse and life is never again quite the same for Hector. And so begins his new infatuation, a need to document or ‘collect’ moments spent observing his wife's movements. It’s an erotic obsession, a whimsical kink. But it’s also a tender desire that paves the way for a successful relationship.

Intentionally funny, yet equal parts warm and tender, The Erotic Potential of My Wife was French author Foenkinos’ first novel to be translated into English. It continues to be well received by critics both at home and away. The Independent newspaper describes it as “funny, poignant and, in places, unexpectedly romantic”, while Le Monde terms it “absurd, funny and eccentric”. (kes)

Click here to read the book.

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Title: The Erotic Potential of My Wife

Author: David Foenkinos

Publisher: Telegram

Published: 2008

Pages: 145

Reviewed by: Dave Barton

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.

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