lunedì 26 dicembre 2016


Some ups and downs while living in the "Wild West" 

Des hauts et des bas tout en vivant dans le "Wild West" 
Alti e bassi vivendo nel "Wilde West"

Simenon seemed quite content living in Bradenton Beach, Florida. (I live almost naked here. […] It’s a paradise for fishermen and I’m one of them.”) Yet, after less than a year there (October 1946 to August 1947), he piled Denise and Marc into a car―Tigy was away on business in Europeand headed west. In trekking along a southern route, the sunsets in Arizona caught Simenon’s eye, so he settled there. Biographer Pierre Assouline suggests“A critic in need of a label would probably date the beginning of his Coca-Cola period from this. 
Whereas it rained a lot in his books and it almost never rained in Arizona, Simenon picked Tucson for his fourth in a total of eight domiciles in North America over a ten-year period (as Murielle Wenger pointed out in her August 30, 2016 post)Another curiosity about Arizona was that, during 1949, Simenon switched from Tucson (a “big little town” of 100,000 people) to Tumacacori (Fully in the wilderness, 30 miles from any town, in a desert climate, among horses and cattle by the hundreds, more exactly the thousands”) and back to Tucson. 
Living in Arizona gave Simenon the chance to rub elbows with cowboys, ranchers, Indians, and Mexicans as well as to frequent swimming pools, movies theaters, drive-ins, bars, and brothels. According to Assouline, Simenon’s life was “calm and energetic”the latter in particular because the fury of writing” obsessed him more than ever. Overall, he was “feeling fine” except for the “big problem” of not “belonging” to the community, this primarily because he was accommodating three women very liberally under his roof.” By now, Boule had joined Tigy and Denise in an arrangement Simenon admitted was a little dubious.” The resulting “social rejection” caused him to “suffer moderately, but Assouline indicates he “wasn’t trying to make friends. As if he had to choose: socializing or writing. He chose. He wrote.” 
In November 1947, some new rain fell on Simenon’s parade: his brother Christian died after being wounded while serving with the Foreign Legion in Vietnam. Not only did Simenon feel grief, he felt guilty. What’s more, when he called his mother with the news, she reproached him: “It’s because you of that Christian is dead! Why is it him who is dead and not you? It’s you who killed him…” After hanging up the telephonehe agreed: “And it’s me who sent him there.” Assouline points out, “it was necessary for his brother to die for Simenon to understand, despite all, how close they were.” Two novels, La Neige était sale and The Bottom of the Bottle, grew out of his internal upheaval. (Set in Arizona, the 2nd book will be discussed next.)  
In 1949, four years after the war ended in France, its purge committee condemned Simenon, without the possibility of appeal, to a two-year period forbidding publication, participation in conferences and radio shows, selling film rights, or profiting from his literary activities. This situation did not come out of the blue, for notably Simenon had opted not to return to France in his own defense. However, this “injustice” was one “he could not tolerate.” So, in an effort to “forget this matter that destabilized him, Simenon pulled up stakes and moved to California. 

David P Simmons 

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