All the King’s Horses

Michèle Bernstein

Most of the winter I’ve been buried in The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, which is excellent yet deceptively dense for short fiction. I needed something a little vapid as a break, and this book claims to have been inspired by Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse. Bernstein allegedly wrote it to generate some money for the Situationist International, and it’s most likely a fictionalized account of her relationship with the group’s de facto leader, Guy Debord. “Geneviéve” traces the dual affairs she and her husband entertain from the summer until the fall: the young lady for him that they find together and the young man she finds on her own for herself. The arcs and dramas of these short-lived pairings are the entire story. All the King’s Horses has a light cadence and just enough clever bits to make it amusing amidst the romantic theatrics and excessive alcohol consumption.

Vodka goes well with a wintry perspective. Nothing else provokes such presentiments of falling snow except, for some, the communist seizure of the state.