Preview of Unsaid Six: My Life Is Nothing Like a Hammer, by Édouard Levé (translated from the French by Lorin Stein)

There is more about my body that I don’t know than I know. I know I have a head, a right brain and a left brain, two eyes, two nostrils, teeth, a lower lip and an upper lip, I know I have ten fingers at the ends of my hands at the ends of my arms connected to my torso, a neck, two nipples, I forget how many ribs, a penis, two testicles, two buttocks, two hips, two legs and two feet, I know I have a stomach, a heart, a large intestine and a small one, a liver, a trachea, blood, a throat, a tongue, vocal chords and two ears, I don’t know how many muscles I have, how much my bones weigh, how many neurons I have or how quickly they are replenished, I don’t know the volume of my blood, I have seen none of my internal organs, I have seen certain parts of my body only through the intermediary of a mirror, I have never seen certain parts of my body, even through the intermediary of a mirror, but I have no idea which. As a hypochondriac, I rejoice in my ignorance of most diseases. I drink water. I do not drink lemonade. I drink Coca-Cola. I do not drink beer. I drink red wine when I eat, and sweet whites by themselves. I often remember that there is something I’m forgetting, but what? I prefer beginnings to endings. I do not despise the teachings of my mother. I have not managed to describe the pain of a powerful electric shock. I am surprised that some people worship Satan, the name makes you think more of profanation than of cults. I have taken Prozac, Lysanxia, Athymil, Lexomil, and Temesta without success. I have stolen things from shops, but not from people’s homes. I have never swindled anyone. I do not feel joy doing evil. I saw a madman walking up le boulevard Beaumarchais in his socks, in the middle of the street, creating a traffic jam that moved as slowly as he did, he wore white and gazed up at the sky, trailed by the furious honking cortege of cars, it wasn’t until he got to place de la République that he deigned to step up onto the sidewalk. When I lived in the rue Legendre I often saw a woman in her sixties who was full of nervous tics, I wondered how she managed to smoke without burning herself. Three things make pools unpleasant: the locker rooms, the fluorescents, the smell of chlorine. I have no financial woes. I wait to sort my mail. My life is nothing like a hammer.

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