10 February 2015

Marcela Iacub: Belle et Bête (2013)

Let's get one thing clear from the start: this book is not the product of a fame-struck bimbo, but of a very intelligent woman with a doctorate in Social Sciences and twelve serious publications behind her before this one. Why she became so emotionally involved with such a monster as Dominique Strauss-Kahn – better known as DSK – she tries to explain in Belle et Bête, although the essential mystery to me is what the above inserted leaflet could possibly be expected to achieve.

DSK wanted to ban this book, although he only succeeded in forcing the publishers Stock to include this leaflet in each copy of Marcela Iacub's book. But although the leaflet announces in huge letters that DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN condemns it, and although in smaller print it announces that 'Dominique STRAUSS-KAHN' is (through a legal process) informing the reader that he considers this book an attack on his private life, there is virtually nothing in this book that associates DSK's name with it.

Marcela Iacub's book is in many ways very restrained: not one name is mentioned in the book itself: no mention of Dominique Strauss-Kahn himself, nor his (now ex-)wife Anne Sinclair, nor the domestic Nafissatou Diallo he was accused of raping in the New York Sofitel. Sofitel is briefly mentioned, as is Lille, but not the Lille hotel itself which is the centre of controversy there. If a person picking up this book knew nothing of DSK, they wouldn't learn anything of his actual existence from this book. In fact, Belle et Bête could be pure fiction, so what exactly was DSK worried about to suggest that it is not?

Belle et Bête is the story of someone who is half-man, half-pig, although the narrator doesn't realise this until she meets him at the Dali in 2012 and he wants to lick off her eye makeup, and as the relationship continues he pours liquid in her ears and sticks his tongue right in, and then at the end – months after – he eats her ear and she lies to the doctor that her dog has bitten her, so the doctor advises her to have him put down. Hmm. At least that ends the relationship, but these eyes and ears are surely not about what they appear to be? We're talking metaphor, aren't we?

DSK's career as head of the IMF and probable future president of France were swiftly demolished, but his credibility was no doubt unaltered by this book, although the future – which includes his Carlton Club case – remains to be seen. This is a fascinating book in its own right: what has DSK to do with it, apart from his name on the inserted leaflet?

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