Emmanuel Carrère's adversary | Review

The review of The adversary it is not simple. Doing literary criticism is not easy in these cases. This January marks two decades since the publication of the most famous book by the French writer Emmanuel Carrère: The adversary. Pure journalistic non-fiction. its protagonist, the murderer Jean-Claude Romand, was released from prison in 2019 after serving 26 years in prison for having killed his wife, his children and his parents. In this masterful book by Emmanuel Carrère the gruesome story of this murderer is summarized.

✅ The adversary, Emmanuel Carrère | Literary criticism

In recent years we have become accustomed to too many horror stories published in newspapers. A man who burns his children in Córdoba. A marriage that freezes its five babies. Even Eminem on his new album already dares to make jokes about terrorist attacks.

It is what happens, that reality continues to write scripts that fiction (if it wants to be credible) cannot allow. That's where the chills with which it hits us come from The adversary, by Emmanuel Carrere; of the fact this is a terrible and true story.

⛔ The life of Jean Claude Romand: the life of no one

When leaning into The adversary it is impossible not to remember Nobody's life, Spanish cinema of the correct and successful (but not brilliant) that for a while quietly walked through a few theaters and then went on to swell various lineups of Sunday DVD collections and, finally, exhale its last vapors among yellowed boxes from flea markets and flea markets of neighborhood There is a lot of life Jean-Claude Romand in this film.

The scene where the woman from Jose Coronado (who is stupid for eight years, nine years, but not ten) summons him to his non-workplace, the Bank of Spain, to, uncovering the deception, put José Coronado (the macho of Spanish cinema and yogurts) in his place BIO), while he decomposes between hesitations and sweats on the claustrophobic marble of that place where nobody knows him.

The film is much more benevolent than the story on which it rests. The matter is about false lives. Reality (the most abominable, fanciful and unreal), once again acting as the scribe of fiction. The adversary does not was banker. It was  doctor.

Emmanuel Carrère's chronicle of the phony Jean-Claude Romand published two decades ago conveys the same growing uneasiness as Eduard Cortés's film, with the evident and succulent plus of being able to enjoy such an overwhelming story through a festival of good literature. This is how the matter starts:

“On the morning of Saturday, January 9, 1993, while Jean-Claude Romand was killing his wife and children, I was attending a pedagogical meeting with my family at the school of Gabriel, our first-born son. Gabriel was five years old, the age of Atoine Romand. Then we went to eat with my parents, and Romand to his family's house, whom he killed after the meal”.

Emmanuel Carrère is a genius of journalistic narrative

That's how you drop it. From minute one, Emmanuel Carrère makes clear the hand with which he is going to play. The degenerate and sick life of compulsive deceit of the Monster gains in harshness when contrasted with the rest of the ordinary, but happy, lives of those who surrounded the Beast during the unhappy existence of this alleged WHO doctor.

A transfer of favors, credits and inheritances with which to sustain an invisible life painted on a blank canvas. The murder of his wife, his children and his parents was the first thing Jean-Claude Romand did in life.

That "I" in the excerpt does not refer to Carrère (who will join the narrative later) but to Luc, the best friend of the fraudster and murderer. The author is committed to letting Luc's voice accompany us during the first bars of a book that later becomes something else.

Carrere He even abandoned the writing of The Adversary on two occasions for two different reasons: First, he was unable to get in touch with the murderer and, second, once correspondence was achieved, he was not convinced by the idea of ​​narrating the story from the perspective of his best friend. Years later, Carrére chose to tell it from Carrère's perspective. This temporal structure is evident in the book itself.

As in so many other journalistic chronicles, the author runs the risk of monopolizing too much prominence. It is appreciated that, in short, The adversary be a brief narration of the judicial summary and of the oral session before judge and jury. The reader unearths as the accused testifies through Carrère's clean prose, which transforms excuses into literature. Specifically, the story includes some other experience of Carrère himself that helps to understand the atmosphere that must have been breathed in France when this drama exploded back in 1993. Two examples:

“When they arrived at the autopsy of their daughter and grandchildren, the tense hand with which she was pressing a balled-up handkerchief to her mouth began to tremble a little. I could have, extending her arm, touched her shoulder, but there was an abyss separating me from her that was not only the intolerable intensity of her pain. I had not written to her or her family, but to the man who had destroyed her lives. I thought I owed her attention to him because, in wanting to tell this story, I considered it 'his'. I had lunch with his lawyer. She was on the other side.

“For that kind of cretin, Martine would not have been hostile to the reinstatement of capital punishment, and he had no qualms about telling me that I was also getting into the same bag. “He must be delighted that you're writing a book about him, right? Deep down he has done well killing his family, all his prayers have been answered. They talk about him, he appears on TV, they are going to write his biography and his canonization record is on the right track. It is what I call succeeding in style. An impeccable itinerary. I say: bravo.”

The inheritance of Cold-blooded by Truman Capote

The correspondence, the trial, the poor devil. When looking at The Adversary it is impossible not to remember Cold-blooded. As in the most cited book by Truman Capote, the greatness of The Adversary, the reason why the one who deserves these lines of remembrance on his 20th anniversary, is in the skill with which he manages not only to create, but also to accentuate, the interest, confusion and restlessness in the reader as the pages are turned. A very serious burden to the Luka Magnotta Don't fuck with cats: but what else is going to happen here by god?

In addition to killing his wife and children, Jean-Claude Romand killed his parents. Last year he was released.

The Capote Clutter murder was perpetrated by two illiterate starving men just looking to line their pockets. The barbarity of the Romand family was the work of "a robot deprived of any ability to feel, but programmed to analyze external stimuli and adapt its reactions to them." The robot ends everything because the credit runs out. The lie machine runs out of balance. Here the miserable Perry Smith has no Dick Hickock to blame.

Or does he have it?

For Jean-Claude Romand, bipolarity is a word that does not quite fit the case. Nor madness. Nor humanity. How did a guy who dropped out of medical school without finishing his second year manage to cheat and support a family for almost two decades? Unraveling the answer is one of the pleasures of this book. The other, the súmmun, is to finish reading it to you without really knowing what to think about this poor devil who, we insist, is on the loose again.

Emmanuel Carrère, The Adversary
Anagram, Barcelona 2000
172 pages | 9 euros

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