New Book: Dany Laferrière’s “L’art presque perdu de ne rien faire”

Boréal has just published Dany Laferrière’s latest book L’art presque perdu de ne rien faire [The Almost Lost Art of Doing Nothing]. The author calls this new book “a novel of ideas,” which, according to Josée Lapointe (La Presse), “leads us into the maze of his thoughts and reveries.” The following are translated excerpts with a link to the full review below:

The idea to write L’art presque perdu de ne rien faire began with a series of chronicles he presented on a radio show. But to what extent do these appear in the book? Which texts are new? “Not important,” the author answers: “I have written a book that stands on its own, organized in the only way it could be done. This is not a collection of chronicles, because that rarely works. Good stories gathered together do not necessarily make a good book.”

The author intended a novel with its own dynamics, without a past. Laferrière says, “I wanted to gather my thoughts in an organic way, following a single flow, the narrator’s.” The texts are thus grouped by themes, for example: “The adventure of travel,” “The universe of the senses,” “The reader in the bathtub,” or “On the nature of power.” These texts are punctuated by prose poems, in a way, the heartbeat of the book: “The art of getting lost,” “The art of dancing one’s life,” “The art of erasure,” “The art of not forgetting” [. . .]

“This is a book by someone who loves daydreaming,” says Laferrière. L’art presque perdu de ne rien faire is a tribute to digression as the “ultimate subversion.” [. . .] Several texts lead to places other than what they initially announced and then establish links that we didn’t see coming. The author smiles and says that this is how the brain works. “It is the movement of the hammock. It goes, it comes, and at the end we have a comprehensive view. But the right to dream is an inalienable law,” he states, adding a quote by Heraclitus: “Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.”

[Many thanks to Thomas Spear (Île-en-île) for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full review (in French), see

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