About the book
He's 39, a writer, dried up and waiting for better days. She's ten years younger, an arts graduate, not doing anything much. Both married, both bored. Lust at first sight. And so they fuck each other and keep fucking each other, just about everywhere in just about every way, and their desire increases. They explore every facility available to intensify their excitement; toys and films and vodka and cocaine, and peep-shows, exhibitionism and voyeurism. Drugged on each other, they want more. They don't talk much. But they do keep notes. Hers fill the left-hand pages of this short, shattering novel, his the right. Alternately dazed and lucid, shrewd and bewildered, they provide aprecise description ofsexual passion, its smells and tastes, fluids and stains. Of the rest of their lives, they record a few fading fragments: names of designers, novelists, singers; some stray ideas and concepts, and brief scenes from their marriages like clips from old films. Their erotic journey begins in a hotel room, and ends in a toilet cubicle. Happiness is not a love story.
Robert's book is aptly a brief, intense experience that can be read in the time it takes for an afternoon liaison
Exquisitely French...throbbingly intense
Denis Robert's Happiness bridges the mind/body chasm. It's a novel that's erotic and cerebral at the same time. It owes a debt to Nicholson Baker's Vox to which it alludes, but ultimately it's a minimalist work unfolding by way of antiphony, ellipsis and innuendo. Even though it's graphic in its description of penetration, it's equally opaque and intentionally unrevealing of the inner life. Throughout the novel libido and creativity are equated, but in the end Happiness is a study of extremism and a perverse sexuality that acts as an obstacle to intimacy.
By unfolfing the narrative through short reports by each of the lovers, Robert makes his story statisfying at a literary level as well.