Written by Herve Le Tellier
A middle-aged man (our hero) is traveling to the heart of the Scottish Highlands to be with his young mistress (our heroine), who is twenty years his junior. Some people would call this madness, a mistake, as his visit is not entirely welcome—her boyfriend will arrive in a few days’ time. But our hero will not be swayed from his mission to seduce and win over his love. This is after all a physical desire, one he could never fight. His current state presents all the expected symptoms of love: painful impatience, shortness of breath, constricted chest, complete loss of appetite. Their rendezvous has been arranged on a main road, where the A32 crosses the S70, beside a road sign. Despite suspecting an icy reception, our hero hopes for the best.
In The Intervention of a Good Man, a comedy of mishaps and disappointments reveal, with great energy and a keen sense of derision, the oldest story in the world—one of amorous fantasy and its denial.
Category: Fiction - Literary
- Price: $4.99
Hervé Le Tellier is a writer, a journalist, a mathematician, a food critic, and a teacher. He has been a member of the Oulipo since 1992 and one of the “papous” of the famous France Culture radio show. He has published fifteen books of stories, essays, and novels. His latest publications include a collection of poetry, Zindien, and a novel, Je m’attache très facilement, which earned him the Guanahani Prize.
Adriana Hunter studied French and Drama at the University of London. She has translated nearly forty books including works by Agnès Desarthe, Amélie Nothomb, Frédéric Beigbeder, Véronique Ovaldé, and Catherine Millet, and has been short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize twice. She lives in Norfolk, England.
Takeoff is scheduled with a five-hour delay. A relief airplane is coming in from London. Our hero can no longer soothe himself with the hope of arriving any sooner than late into the night. He has called back the young woman to let her know, and suggests one last time coming to pick her up so he can spend the night with her. She dismisses the offer, insists he call back in the morning. She argues that she would really rather not invent some lie for her mother. Our hero takes this pretext at face value and will have to make do with it. All the same, he tries—we really do never learn—to extract a few kind words from our heroine, or at least some sort of encouragement. She will not be moved but does concede that she is very sorry he is stuck at Charles de Gaulle. Then she agrees he can call once he is on the way to Braemore. She said Very sorry. It’s not much. Not much at all. To be honest, it’s enough to make you cry. But our hero is too grown up to cry.
Let’s laugh instead: from the Paris airport, our hero has also contacted his hotel to let them know about the delay. A kindly Scotsman—a warmly dressed redhead with alopecia, waiting to catch the same flight—overheard his administrative conversation. He starts talking to our hero, who looks him up and down in amazement. My God, I bet this guy’s the same age as me, he shudders. He wonders how, in all honesty, he could be sure of looking any younger.
As friendly as you please, the man tells him the best way to get to the town he referred to. He goes so far as to say the hotel in question is magnificent. And finishes with a You’re lucky to be spending a night there. Our hero thinks that, in actual fact, this night will be spent alone, and he will leave the hotel when the time comes to check out without having been joined by the young woman. Still, he thanks the kindly Scotsman as best he can.
But four stars for one man on his own is a lot less fun than two stars for two people.