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The End of January: Suicide and Rape in Nothing Holds Back the Night: Ploughshares

Delphine de Vigan discovers her mother’s body on the first page of her autobiographical novel Nothing Holds Back the Night, and the opening line’s intensity endures. Considering Lucile on her bed, de Vigan asks “how did my brain manage to keep the perception of my mother’s body at such a distance, especially its smell?,” and the pages that follow are an attempt to breach this distance–not only the immediate perceptive distance in her mother’s bedroom, but previous cavities in understanding that time has seen grow deep and tender.

“And then, like dozens of authors before me, I attempted to write my mother.”

A slippery work in terms of genre, auto-fiction seems applicable as far process is concerned; de Vigan has not produced a novel based on her mother, but a work that enfolds the inevitability of fiction in its rendering. In filling in various lacunae, in writing into absence and through opacity, she must suppose, reconsider and supplant, and it is here that fiction–albeit deeply informed by reality–occurs.

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Sue Rainsford