I had never heard of Barbara Molinard until this collection of short stories was translated into English and released this year. Originally published in France in 1969, this is the only thing Mollinard ever published, as she destroyed everything she wrote immediately after writing it. Thanks partly to her friend, writer Marguerite Duras, these stories escaped her destruction. Within these pages, surreal and disturbing visions of a hostile, claustrophobic world evoking our collective fears and nightmares unfold with the dizzying momentum of a fever dream. Molinard's insights into violence and mental illness create a piercing and mesmerizing portrait of a dreamlike world that is inescapably absurd, yet all too real. It's tragic that this is all we have from Barbara Molinard, but this book is a gift. Shane loves!— Shane
Panics, written & nearly destroyed by: Barbara Molinard
A woman can't decide what to wear before meeting a mysterious stranger at the airport. A pharmacist chops off a man's hand unprovoked. A young couple are haunted by visions of a snake. These are just a handful of the surviving writings of the little-known midcentury French writer Barbara Molinard, who upended the old writer cliché "destroy all of my work when I die" and decided rather to destroy each of her works immediately after writing them. These stories represent the only thing left of the now long-dead Molinard, saved from oblivion by her husband and close friend Marguerite Duras, a group of hallucinatory and surrealist short stories that are more akin to fever dreams and night terrors than drug trips. Stories that tend to focus on a protagonist dealing with some form of mental illness who's grip on reality is being loosened more and more, sometimes culminating in a violent and/or mind-bending climax.
Someone who considered the human race to be "very mediocre," Molinard's work speaks to age-old philosophical questions about what exactly makes us human. Why is nature inherently self-destructive, and why does our desire for mastery over it lead us hurtling towards our demise? Why are we attracted to the "inhuman" that betrays our own humanity? In true French fashion, Molinard gives us a romantically doomed outlook on the human condition in a variety of different ways; from the gothic to the grotesque.— Marco