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Festivus Festivus by Philippe Muray
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Festivus Festivus

by Philippe Muray

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Festivus Festivus is the Latin taxonomic entry Philippe Muray has coined for the current iteration of Homo Sapiens. FF is the rollerblade loving, concert going, uninspired and uninspiring bon vivant you might have seen described as bobo elsewhere (and he acknoledges this). But for nearly 500 pages, Philippe Muray goes on and on. And on. There are a couple of fairly astonishing things about this. One, it's very entertaining and readable, and two, there is actually someone who gives all these things this much thought. Muray thought absolutely everything all the way through. He was ready to discuss, argue and do battle over every issue, news event, celebrity, philosophy, religion - you name it, Muray could engage in intelligent argument over it.

Anyone that precocious has got to be quite full of himself, and Muray fits the bill too. His thoughts list towards the arrogant and the negative; nothing is the least bit pleasing. But getting there is fun. He was very creative with word choice, often inventing new nouns out of people's names to describe a state - the martineaubryization of the Parti Socialiste. He twisted nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns as needed to give his thoughts the most precise flavour he could. You will undoubtedly need a dictionary to keep up with choices. Extremely clever chapter titles (Nothing will ever be like what comes after. The end of the world has been moved to an earlier date) are totally wasted on what is simply more the same conversation. But he had the creativity to spare, so he used it.

The book covers this decade - until his death - and so all the events that shaped the world get reshaped by his prism. From Twin Towers to the war in Afghanistan, from the rise of Muslims in France to the self inflicted disaster of the PS under Lionel Jospin - everything gets shredded and put in its proper place. Philippe Muray looked into everything, and his perspectives show clearly he had his thumb on everything. He was too right most of the time, but also guilty of being wrong for latching onto assumptions and stray quotes. It's easy enough to take issue with much of what he has decided. But it's great that someone was able to speak endlessly and intelligently about damn near anything.
(In French only) ( )
  DavidWineberg | Oct 5, 2010 |
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