Prix de Flore-winning author Frédéric Beigbeder may have a second calling as a film comedian. I see him in a Judd Apatow boy-man type role, with a dose of French swagger. Last night was Paris’s first Literary Death Match, a throw-down organized by Opium magazine where authors read their work in competition before a live audience and jury. It started late because Beigbeder had gone temporarily missing, and then we were all shocked (and maybe not so shocked), when Beigbeder got up and announced that he had forgotten to bring his book; he was too drunk to compete; and anyway, he wouldn’t compete against a woman. Especially one as beautiful as Max Monnehay.
Everyone laughed, even if my female friends found his gallantry with Monnehay irksome, and also, typically French. Monnehay, who was arguably disadvantaged by age and experience, presumably signed on aware of her underdog role, and aware that the whole thing was a semi-spoof, and yet, hoping for some element of challenge. Beigbeder was too busy attending to his performance to think that his stepping down would patronize her?
Still, it was a funny sort of vaudevillian vamp. As jury member and writer David Foenkinos pointed out, Beigbeder’s most magic talent may be that he can talk about absolutely nothing for eight minutes, and still entertain.