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INTERVIEW


THE NEO-HYDROPATHES:
WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?



FLEETING MENTAL PICTURES, FANCY PRINT AND COOL HAIRCUTS: FRANCOIS BOSQUES INTERVIEWS FRANTICALLY-SPONTANEOUS AND CLASSICALLY-COIFFURED NEO-HYDROPATHE POETESS LUCIE AVELIERE. TRANSLATION BY OUR RESIDENT NEO-HYDROPATHE GUILLAUME DESTOT.


Copyright © 2001, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


I met Lucie Avelière in a small café of the ninth arrondissement of Paris. It was my first encounter with a member of that elusive group, the néo-Hyrdopathes, and I felt a bit nervous because of the glamour and mystery that surrounds the young pack. I was relieved to find a fun-loving girl instead of the gloomy poetess I had expected. A copy of Le Monde under one arm, a glass of wine in the right hand, Lucie greeted me with a smile and a joke about my soaked clothes and my all but ruined white suede shoes ( it had rained and I had forgotten my umbrella, another episode in the long chain of annoying incidents called 'my life'). Lucie is the only female member of the néo-Hydropathe group to this date, and she is known for her contributions to the group's journal, Hurluberlu. She writes in English as well as French, so be sure to read her short-short/poem in the Byte-Sized section.

FB: Why is it that the néo-Hydropathes seem to dislike novels? Most of the group's production is made up of short-shorts, short stories or poetry. Is there a reason for this?

LA: Not really, no. Perhaps we're too young for even having had the time to write a proper book. Instead of a constructing a plot, we often translate into words fleeting mental pictures. What I call picture is something you can see in its entirety in a glance. For the moment we want to explore a mode of writing which weaves a network of these pictures. Most members of the group, except perhaps Hilaire de Frontenoy, are also frantically spontaneous in the way they write. They can't sustain their efforts for more than a dozen lines (she laughs). It's also certainly one step in our development. I've been talking with Andrew Gallix about publishing instalments of a novel on the 3AM Magazine site, as you probably know.

FB: I didn't.

LA: That would be my first proper novel, and it's a good way of engaging on a longer project, while not becoming the slave of a megalomaniac project. I still want to have time for short stuff as well. I must say my inspiration tends to take short forms, because it's also something I'm sensitive to as a reader. Guillaume Destot and I had a talk about it just last night and he shares this taste with me[I certainly do].

FB: Why did you have this special relationship with 3AM Magazine? Why not choose a French e-zine?

LA: Ask Guillaume Destot! I don't know really. We started out quite independently, with our own review, and then, since most of us read or write English, we thought it could be a good way to put our nose in another world. Besides, we're always up at 3 a.m.

FB: Do you mean you're sick of Paris? You're only giving regular news of the group to 3AM Magazine, is this a revenge of some kind?

LA: Of course not. No one wronged us! (laughs) There's a lot to do here. But it's good to try and reach another public.

FB: What can you tell us about the neo-Hydropathes? Do you have frequent meetings and common projects?

LA: It's all very informal. We meet often , several times a week, but there's no organisation as such. It's not like 'be there every Friday at seven'. It's rather informal, on the whole. For the time being there's no project of a common work proper. We just exchange views and stories and read our stuff to each other.

FB: Where do you usually meet?

LA: Mostly round Odéon, in small cafés. We tend not to like street corner cafés. Is this answer sufficiently technical for you?

FB: Yes, and I have more technical questions up my sodden sleeve. Why did you choose to adopt the bottle of plonk as your emblem?

LA: It's not really our emblem. It's more like a symbol, but it's not an attempt at summing up our philosophy in one object. We were looking for something visual and linked with our cultural identity, which would also be satirical in itself. Alexandre Lestoins' first collection of poems had a cover like a wine label, with the vintage, fancy print and all. It's not to be taken too seriously though (she laughs). We're not really alcoholics (laughs again and takes a sip from her glass of Bordeaux).

FB: Andrew Gallix recently mentioned 'cool haircuts' as a significant feature of the neo-Hydropathes, in his review for 3AM Magazine. Yours is rather classical. Is it really a characteristic of the group?

LA: (giggles. Wine's making her blush a little.) I guess he meant Guillaume Destot. He sure has a cool haircut. [thanks Lucie!]. Hilaire de Frontenoy is also rather sexy. But we don't set that much store on our physical appearance. See, we're not a rock band. We're just trying to reverse some clichés about contemporary French writers, perhaps about contemporary writers at large. Take Houellebecq for instance. Don't you think he should see a stylist? And he's a rock star now!

FB: Perhaps there's more to Houellebecq than his depressing looks?

LA: Like what? (laughs). Just joking.







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