The Red Notebook

A quote from Sacha Guitry came to mind: 'Watching someone sleep is like reading a letter that is not addressed to you.

At a previous lunch, he had shown Laurent the relevant files on his laptop. In one click, Pascal had made three folders appear, filled with photos of women. ‘Stock’ for the women he had already slept with, ‘In progress’ for those he’d had a date with, ‘Prospective’ for the women he was aiming to date soon.

Can you experience nostalgia for something that hasn’t happened? We talk of ‘regrets’ about the course of our lives, when we are almost certain we have taken the wrong decision; but one can also be enveloped in a sweet and mysterious euphoria, a sort of nostalgia for what might have been. Meeting

Chloe sighted, then continued, 'She's very attached to the past - the mirror is ancient, a famili heirloom; perhaps it was her grandmother's. And she uses an unusual perfume - no one wears Habanita any more - she writes weird things in her notebook, she has a book signed by an author you admire...' Then she concluded with an ironic smile, 'She's the woman for you.

Do great things, Laure, be happy, or at least do your best to be. Life is fragile

Ephemeral relationships like that just happen, programmed from the outset to die after a brief period – but you only realise that as they are about to end.

Era exactamente lo que sugería Tabucchi en su título: uno pasa al lado de algo importante. Al lado de un amor, al lado de una profesión, al lado de una mudanza a otra ciudad o a otro país. O a otra vida. «Al lado» y, al mismo tiempo, «tan cerca» que, a veces, en instantes de melancolía rayanos en la hipnosis, uno es capaz, a pesar de todo, de captar parcelas de ese posible. Como

He drank some more wine, feeling he was about to commit a forbidden act. A transgression. For a man should never go through a woman's handbag-even the most remote tribe would adhere to that ancestral rule.

How many things do we feel obliged to do for the sake of it, or for appearances, or because we are trained to do them, but which weigh us down and don’t in fact achieve anything?

If there was one thing that defined adolescence it was hysterical laughter. You never laughed like that again. In adolescence the brutal realisation that the world and life were completely absurd made you laugh until you couldn’t catch your breath, whereas in later life it would only result in a weary sigh.

If there was one thing thing that defined adolescence it was hysterical laughter. You never laughed like that again. In adolescence the brutal realisation that the world and life were completely absurd made you laugh until you couldn't catch your breath, whereas in later life it would only result in a weary sight.

It's the story of a bookseller who finds a handbag in the street one day, takes it home with him, empties out its contents and decides to look for the woman who owns it. He succeeds but when he finds her, he runs off like an idiot.

Laurent was fascinated by her reflections which followed on one from the other, random, touching, zany, sensual.

Take the keys from my bag,’ or ‘There’s a pack of tissues in my bag; you can take those.’ He had not touched a handbag without explicit prior authorisation, more like a command that was only valid for a very limited time. If Laurent couldn’t find the keys or the tissues in less than ten seconds and began to rummage about in the bag, it was immediately reclaimed by its owner. The action was accompanied by an irritated little exclamation, always in the imperative, ‘Give that to me!’ And

That was exactly what Tabucchi was suggesting in his title – that we can pass right by something very important: love, a job, moving to another city or another country. Or another life. ‘Pass by’ and at the same time be ‘so close’ that sometimes, while in that state of melancholy that is akin to hypnosis, we can, in spite of everything, manage to grab little fragments of what might have been. Like catching snatches of a far-off radio frequency. The message is obscure, yet by listening carefully you can still catch snippets of the soundtrack of the life that never was. You hear sentences that were never actually said, you hear footsteps echoing in places you’ve never been to, you can make out the surf on a beach whose sand you have never touched. You hear the laughter and loving words of a woman though nothing ever happened between you. The idea of an affair with her had crossed your mind. Perhaps she would have liked that – probably in fact – but nothing ever happened. For some unknown reason, we never gave in to the exquisite vertigo that you feel when you move those few centimetres towards the face of the other for the first kiss. We passed by, we passed so close that something of the experience remains.

That was exactly what Tabucchi was suggesting with his title ("La Nostalgie du Possible") --that we can pass right by something very important: love, a job, moving to another city or another country. Or another life. 'Pass by' and at the same time be 'so close' that sometimes, while in that state of melancholy that is akin to hypnosis, we can, in spite of everything, manage to grab little fragments of what might have been. Like catching snatches of a far-off radio frequency. The message is obscure, yet by listening carefully you can still catch snippets of the soundtrack of the life that never was. You hear sentences that were never actually said, you hear footsteps echoing in places you've never been to, you can make out the surf on a beach whose sand you have never touched. You hear the laughter and loving words of a woman though nothing ever happened between you. The idea of an affiar with her had crossed your mind. Perhaps she would have liked that --probably, in fact-- but nothing every happened. For some unknown reason, we never gave in to the exquisite vertigo that you feel when you move those few centimeters towards the face of the other for the first kiss.

There, it was over. How was it so easy to disappear from someone else's life? Perhaps it was with the same ease that you enter it. A chance meeting, a few words exchanged, and a relationship begins. A chance falling out, a few words exchanged and that same relationship is over.

There, it was over. How was it so easy to disappear from someone else’s life? Perhaps it was with the same ease that you enter it. A chance meeting, a few words exchanged, and a relationship begins. A chance falling out, a few words exchanged and that same relationship is over.

There's nothing worse than being bored with a boring man.

To quote Patrick Modiano, whom you you seem to like, in Villa Triste, 'There are mysterious beings, always the same, who watch over us at each crossroads in our lives.' Let's just say that, unintentionally, I have been one of those beings.

Une existence entiere a lire l'aurait comble, elle ne lui avait pas ete donnee. Il aurait fallu choisir sa voie plus tot, savoir ce que l'on veut faire apres le baccalaureat. Avoir un projet de vie.

What I really need is a friend just like me; I'm sure I'd be my own best friend.

What was she like, this Laure who enjoyed having lunch in the garden, was frightened of red ants, dremt she was making love to her pet which had been transformed into a man, and had a signed Patrick Modiano?

She was an enigma. It was like looking at someone through a fogged-up window. her face was like one encountered in a dream, whose features disolve as soon as you try to recall them.