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'My Albertine, how I adored her! Her luminous eyes led me through the darkness of my youth. She was my guide through the nights of one hundred sleeps. And now she is yours.' At the age of twenty-one, a sad and hungry Patti Smith walked into a bookshop in Greenwich Village and decided to spend her last 99 cents on a novel that would change her life forever. The book was Ast 'My Albertine, how I adored her! Her luminous eyes led me through the darkness of my youth. She was my guide through the nights of one hundred sleeps. And now she is yours.' At the age of twenty-one, a sad and hungry Patti Smith walked into a bookshop in Greenwich Village and decided to spend her last 99 cents on a novel that would change her life forever. The book was Astragal, by Albertine Sarrazin. Sarrazin was an enigmatic outsider who had spent time in jail and who wrote only two novels and a book of poems in her short life - she died the year before Patti found her book, at the age of twenty-nine. Astragal tells the story of Anne, a young woman who breaks her ankle in a daring escape from prison. She makes it to a highway where she's picked up by a motorcyclist, Julien, who's also on the run. As they travel through nights and days together, they fall in love and must do whatever they can to survive, living their lives always on the edge of danger. A bewitching and timeless novel of youthful rebellion and romance, this new edition of Patsy Southgate's original translation includes an introduction by Patti Smith.


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'My Albertine, how I adored her! Her luminous eyes led me through the darkness of my youth. She was my guide through the nights of one hundred sleeps. And now she is yours.' At the age of twenty-one, a sad and hungry Patti Smith walked into a bookshop in Greenwich Village and decided to spend her last 99 cents on a novel that would change her life forever. The book was Ast 'My Albertine, how I adored her! Her luminous eyes led me through the darkness of my youth. She was my guide through the nights of one hundred sleeps. And now she is yours.' At the age of twenty-one, a sad and hungry Patti Smith walked into a bookshop in Greenwich Village and decided to spend her last 99 cents on a novel that would change her life forever. The book was Astragal, by Albertine Sarrazin. Sarrazin was an enigmatic outsider who had spent time in jail and who wrote only two novels and a book of poems in her short life - she died the year before Patti found her book, at the age of twenty-nine. Astragal tells the story of Anne, a young woman who breaks her ankle in a daring escape from prison. She makes it to a highway where she's picked up by a motorcyclist, Julien, who's also on the run. As they travel through nights and days together, they fall in love and must do whatever they can to survive, living their lives always on the edge of danger. A bewitching and timeless novel of youthful rebellion and romance, this new edition of Patsy Southgate's original translation includes an introduction by Patti Smith.

30 review for Astragal (Serpent's Tail Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣

    There is something: in the search for freedom, in breaking one's feet in a hurry to get out (and what a hurry, 7 years at 19?), in looking for life, hurrying to get it all... Still, I sort of felt it was all a bit underdeveloped. We got vignettes where a real book could have stood.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bjorn

    19-year-old Anne - old enough to take her pants off, old enough to go to jail, legally still a child - jumps off the 10-metre wall of the jail where she's serving a 7-year sentence. Smashes her ankle, crawls to the highway, is picked up by a small-time crook with a motorcycle who helps her hide with various acquaintances as she recuperates as well as she can, having to depend on others. This is love. This is freedom. This is never being able to walk right again. Astragal is many things. Largely a 19-year-old Anne - old enough to take her pants off, old enough to go to jail, legally still a child - jumps off the 10-metre wall of the jail where she's serving a 7-year sentence. Smashes her ankle, crawls to the highway, is picked up by a small-time crook with a motorcycle who helps her hide with various acquaintances as she recuperates as well as she can, having to depend on others. This is love. This is freedom. This is never being able to walk right again. Astragal is many things. Largely autobiographical, to take the most obvious, tragic (and in a way least interesting) fact: Sarrazin - orphan, mixed-race, abuse victim - wrote the book, as well as the follow-up, in jail, and eventually married the guy on the motorcycle before dying at age 29. One of those books you should read before age 25 for the best effect, probably. A product of its time, for sure: "To live outside the law you must be honest", Week-End , all that jazz; a dream of "freedom" that's already starting to look frayed at the edges, asking the question "...of what? To what? For how long?" The astragal of the title is the ankle bone (specifically the one called "leap bone" in Swedish). The novel is named for the price she pays for freedom: the ability to run, to dance, to drive a car, to walk barefoot, leaving her free to be tied to the same world that saw her end up in jail in the first place. As she limps from hiding place to hiding place, falling in what love is there, trying to unpause, to become. Of course, none of this would matter much if it wasn't also another thing: Really fucking well-written. Anne narrates the whole thing in a style that never seems like it's trying to be either literary or "street", just is, a jumble of detailed, unflinching but never too deliberate impressions and thoughts and memories that keep the story tumbling along in one long breathless monologue, even during the long stretches where little actually happens beyond bones stitching themselves back together. (No wonder a young Patti Smith loved it and gushes about it in the foreword.) It's not a nice story about how love or freedom or cameraderie fixes everything, or even anything. It's just a book that, somehow, keeps getting lighter even as the things it bears try to weigh it down.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Written by Sarrazin while serving time behind bars this semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of Anne, who after jumping to freedom from prison fractures her ankle and is found by the side of the road by Julian (who also happens to be on the run), they journey together, quickly form a bond, and romance soon follows. This was a cool and sexy read, also very charismatically French. It also captured a certain style similar to that of a Jean-Luc Godard movie. Tragically Albertine Sarrazin died Written by Sarrazin while serving time behind bars this semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of Anne, who after jumping to freedom from prison fractures her ankle and is found by the side of the road by Julian (who also happens to be on the run), they journey together, quickly form a bond, and romance soon follows. This was a cool and sexy read, also very charismatically French. It also captured a certain style similar to that of a Jean-Luc Godard movie. Tragically Albertine Sarrazin died in 1967 aged only 29 due to complications from kidney surgery, and never really got to reach her true potential. This version of the book includes a brilliant introduction written by Patti Smith, and how it went on to have a big impact on her.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    When I picked up Astragal (1965) by Albertine Sarrazin the cover told me that it is Patti Smith’s favourite novel. For future reference – never to ask Patti Smith for book recommendations. The author’s biography is far more interesting than the book she wrote. Sarrazin had a rough childhood which led to her to a life of crime and punishment. She wrote this novel whilst in jail and died aged 29. Astragal is a semi-autobiographical work which follows Anne, a 19 y/o girl who escapes from jail. Duri When I picked up Astragal (1965) by Albertine Sarrazin the cover told me that it is Patti Smith’s favourite novel. For future reference – never to ask Patti Smith for book recommendations. The author’s biography is far more interesting than the book she wrote. Sarrazin had a rough childhood which led to her to a life of crime and punishment. She wrote this novel whilst in jail and died aged 29. Astragal is a semi-autobiographical work which follows Anne, a 19 y/o girl who escapes from jail. During her jailbreak she physically breaks her ankle bone (or her l’astragale in French, hence the title) so she spends the whole book on the run (or hobbling along anyway). My problem with this novel is that it is so influenced by the nouvelle vague that it almost reads like a parody in some chapters. As I read on I decided to turn the novel into a type of challenge to see if I could find the most ridiculous line. My two winners are, ‘Before the ambulance came, we had time to make love’ and ‘Julien pulls the bidet, by its iron legs, out from under the sink. We flick our cigarettes into it’. This novel is INSUFFERABLE. It is the scraps that graced the floor of Godard’s cutting room – the leering shot of Anna Karina and the philosophical ramblings of Jean Seberg. And worst of all it’s boring. Oh so boring. By the time I finished this novel I was à bout de souffle from all the huffing and puffing and sighing and tutting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Thom

    Albertine Sarrazin’s novel Astragal, originally published in 1965, is full of a free-wheeling, self-mythologizing attitude rare in modern fiction, but which evokes an era which thrived on heroes who took control of their own fates, seeking complete personal freedom even if it meant living beyond the law - an attitude which was a contributing factor in the conflicts of 1968. Albertine herself never made it to that date (she died in 1967 of complications following surgery, after a life spent in an Albertine Sarrazin’s novel Astragal, originally published in 1965, is full of a free-wheeling, self-mythologizing attitude rare in modern fiction, but which evokes an era which thrived on heroes who took control of their own fates, seeking complete personal freedom even if it meant living beyond the law - an attitude which was a contributing factor in the conflicts of 1968. Albertine herself never made it to that date (she died in 1967 of complications following surgery, after a life spent in and out of prisons and reformatories), but the novel still reverberates with her energy and spirit. Albertine was born in Algeria in 1937, and was abandoned by her parents as a baby. Adopted and bought to France, she was an intelligent child, particularly good at Latin and Maths, but was abused by a member of her new family and placed in a reformatory school. This marked the beginning a life marked by transience and conflicts with authority. Escaping from the school, she travelled to Paris and worked as a prostitute, before being imprisoned in 1953 following a hold-up. She escaped from this prison, too, before meeting her husband. The two stayed on the run for the next decade, communicating by letters when one or the other was locked up. These are the experiences which went into the creation of the semi-autobiographical novel Astragal, written in prison in 1964, and published after her release. Astragal is narrated by Anne, a stand in for Albertine herself. The novel opens with her escape from jail, during which she fractures her ankle badly. She is picked up at the roadside by a man on a motorcycle, Julien. She immediately sees that Julien is a fellow outlaw, recognising ‘certain signs imperceptible to people who haven’t done time; a way of talking without moving the lips’. The opening passages are filled with a sense of possibility; ‘the sky,’ she says, ‘had lifted at least thirty feet’. As the couple drive away, she announces that ‘a new century begins’. This idea that one might meet one’s lover by chance, at the side of the road, go away together on the back of a motorbike via a series of safehouses and find your identity on the open road, is a common Sixties motif, referenced by everything from Easy Rider, Bonnie and Clyde and A Bout de Souffle to Natural Born Killers. Astragal, though, shows the experience from the point of view of the woman, frequently abandoned in a series of hostile or confining environments while her man goes off housebreaking. Held back by her damaged ankle, Anne spends her time on the run washing shirts, sewing ties and fending off pimps while Julian disappears for weeks at a time. She worries about being a liability to him, and about how she is going to pay for her board with the various opportunistic hosts Julian finds for her. Albertine’s prose is lyrical and impressionistic, filled with images of rebirth. Anne’s initial escape takes place at Easter, and she knowingly refers to her ‘resurrection’ after spending three days in a hospital bed. The narrative recognises that rebirth is not an easy process. While her healing ankle suggests development, or growth, it also holds her back, physically. In the first house they come to, Julien places Anne in a child’s bed. Here, she is nursed, and begins the process of learning to walk again. She doesn’t have the agency of an adult, struggling against the constraints she is placed under and the behaviour she has learned (‘prison still surrounded me: I found it in my reflexes, the jumpiness, the stealth and the submissiveness of my reactions… several years of clockwork routine and constant dissembling of self’). More important than this, though, is the mental effect of freedom: ‘suddenly I realised how much each cell, each drop of my blood meant to me, how much I was cell and blood, multiplied and divided to infinity in the whole of my body: I would die if I had to, but all in one piece’. In her introduction to this volume, Patti Smith, who encountered Astragal as a young woman thanks to a cheap edition in a Greenwich Village book stall, asks ‘would I have carried myself with the same swagger, or faced adversity with such feminine resolve, without Albertine as my guide?’ It is her powerful sense of self-definition, of control over her destiny, which gives Anne such strength. As a poor woman, on the run, many of the people she encounters are hostile, but she faces down individuals like the surgeon who treats her ankle but never ‘deigns to notice that, surrounding bone, there is a woman, an uncarvable being who works and thinks’. She is unwilling to compromise her sense of self in any way; in Paris, she begins earning money again, street-walking, and considers sending some of her earnings to Julien, who is in prison at this point. His family object, as she is not his wife and they dislike her association with their son, so she drops the idea completely, declaring that ‘to send Julien money under another name doesn’t interest me’. Gradually, Anne becomes more independent, but still continues to wait for Julien, believing that they are fated to be together, even as her lover becomes increasingly unreliable. Several times she almost breaks away, travelling to the coast, but she is always drawn back to the Parisian underworld they both inhabit. The narrative moves frequently between the present day and flashbacks, employing the kind of jump-cuts seen in a Godard film. Albertine never goes full stream-of-consciousness, but Anne’s interior monologue is brilliantly captured. She is also able to nail characters with a well-chosen phrase, such as Anne’s preening suitor, who is dismissed with the line ‘even the hairs of his moustache seem to have been planted’. Albertine Sarrazin is a rare literary voice, and Astragal is a compelling view of the counter-culture of her time, retaining a powerful sense of urgency half a century on from its creation.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Astragal follows Anne, a 19 year old girl who escapes from prison by jumping a wall and ends up badly breaking her ankle as a result. The rest of the story follows her and Julian, the man who saves her from the roadside, as she travels around France trying to keep out of the clutches of the law, as well as the various people who put her up. I honestly thought I would enjoy this more. It is very well-written, but almost too well-written for the simplicity of the story - at times I felt like Sarraz Astragal follows Anne, a 19 year old girl who escapes from prison by jumping a wall and ends up badly breaking her ankle as a result. The rest of the story follows her and Julian, the man who saves her from the roadside, as she travels around France trying to keep out of the clutches of the law, as well as the various people who put her up. I honestly thought I would enjoy this more. It is very well-written, but almost too well-written for the simplicity of the story - at times I felt like Sarrazin was making much out of nothing. I didn't particularly enjoy being in Anne's head all the time. For a woman who struck me at times as being quite a strong character, at other times she really could be a bit of a lovesick teen. I know she was 19, but that seems a bit old for that. It took me longer to read than I had previously imagined because instead of getting swept away in the story, I kept putting it down. I'm not going to say I didn't enjoy this book, because certain moments (and particularly the last couple of chapters) did capture me, and I found myself wanting to see how things would end up. But overall I just didn't think this was all that interesting, and it's a shame because I wanted to love Patti Smith's favourite book. The introduction by Smith herself is definitely worth a read though.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stacia

    She has a very fresh, immediate voice in this book, a semi-autobiographical look at "Anne" who leaps from a third floor to escape prison, shatters her ankle, is randomly (& luckily) picked up by a minor crook (Julien) before her escape is discovered & wanders between hideouts, waiting, healing, & reverting back to her old life (yet at such a young age) of prostitution & thievery. There is freedom of spirit here, but also a lot of hiding, looking over her shoulder (not wanting to be caught), & wa She has a very fresh, immediate voice in this book, a semi-autobiographical look at "Anne" who leaps from a third floor to escape prison, shatters her ankle, is randomly (& luckily) picked up by a minor crook (Julien) before her escape is discovered & wanders between hideouts, waiting, healing, & reverting back to her old life (yet at such a young age) of prostitution & thievery. There is freedom of spirit here, but also a lot of hiding, looking over her shoulder (not wanting to be caught), & waiting (sometimes too long) for erstwhile savior & lover Julien. Free & yet never really free. A fascinating & fresh account from the '60s.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Randall Wood

    A surprisingly lyrical and well told narrative, and a compelling individual as well. It's refreshing to hear about a life on the lam told in the first person. It may have been the effect of the translation from the French (which was excellent) but this story rings with a narrative quality - a rhythm - I haven't come across elsewhere. Sarrazin has the knack of making the obvious understated, and bringing out the detail with a dry and self-effacing humor. I think I'll remember this one for some ti A surprisingly lyrical and well told narrative, and a compelling individual as well. It's refreshing to hear about a life on the lam told in the first person. It may have been the effect of the translation from the French (which was excellent) but this story rings with a narrative quality - a rhythm - I haven't come across elsewhere. Sarrazin has the knack of making the obvious understated, and bringing out the detail with a dry and self-effacing humor. I think I'll remember this one for some time to come.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    Albertine Sarrazin had a remarkable life, and i love the look of her, and the Patti Smith introduction to this book is great, but..... I'm not that crazy about "Astragal." I think it's a so-so novel. Clearly written by a young person, it does capture the essence of me or us vs the world - but, in the end of the novel, I really don't care about the lead character or the others in the novel. By no means is it terrible. But for me, it goes from eyes to brain back to eyes - and I will forget it tomo Albertine Sarrazin had a remarkable life, and i love the look of her, and the Patti Smith introduction to this book is great, but..... I'm not that crazy about "Astragal." I think it's a so-so novel. Clearly written by a young person, it does capture the essence of me or us vs the world - but, in the end of the novel, I really don't care about the lead character or the others in the novel. By no means is it terrible. But for me, it goes from eyes to brain back to eyes - and I will forget it tomorrow.

  10. 5 out of 5

    mwpm

    Watch my review! Watch my review!

  11. 5 out of 5

    tortoise dreams

    An interesting novel by an author with an even more interesting bio. The reader becomes immersed in the interior monologue of the narrator as she breaks her ankle escaping from prison (on the first page). She slowly heals, the road to recovery consisting of hiding out with various people, leading to simmering tensions that are mostly covered over by politeness. This is a book for patient readers, willing to attend to the smallest details as there's little plot, little action, & one can only desc An interesting novel by an author with an even more interesting bio. The reader becomes immersed in the interior monologue of the narrator as she breaks her ankle escaping from prison (on the first page). She slowly heals, the road to recovery consisting of hiding out with various people, leading to simmering tensions that are mostly covered over by politeness. This is a book for patient readers, willing to attend to the smallest details as there's little plot, little action, & one can only describe a healing ankle (the talus or astragalus bone) in so many ways. Very much a study of characters. I was sucked in (my ankle started to hurt & I may've developed a limp), but the book was also slow, esp for such a short novel (190 pp.).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lee Razer

    Autobiographical novel of teenaged French-Algerian girl, her escape from a youth reformatory prison, relationship with a petty criminal who picks her up, and carving out of a temporary life on the Parisian streets. Though she is tough and "a stick of dynamite" to quote Patti Smith's notable introduction, the novel is largely an account of things that happen to her; she demonstrates only a precarious ability here to direct the course of her life. In the first half of the story this is due to the f Autobiographical novel of teenaged French-Algerian girl, her escape from a youth reformatory prison, relationship with a petty criminal who picks her up, and carving out of a temporary life on the Parisian streets. Though she is tough and "a stick of dynamite" to quote Patti Smith's notable introduction, the novel is largely an account of things that happen to her; she demonstrates only a precarious ability here to direct the course of her life. In the first half of the story this is due to the fact that her escape resulted in the shattering of an ankle bone, "l'astragale", which is the sort of thing that can happen when you let go of a high wall and find that, "The sky had lifted at least thirty feet" as you now lay on cracked pavement. Picked up by the stranger Julian on a nearby road, he becomes her guardian and her lover. Hiding her first at his mother's house, as any good son would do, he later shifts her around to other hideouts owned by minor criminal acquaintances of his. Eventually Anne's ankle adequately heals, she grows tired of this living arrangement, and she strikes out on her own as a prostitute and thief. Her move for independence in the latter part of the story is undermined by her dependent love on Julian. Only he can make her happy now. Forced to spend six months in prison on a minor charge, when he is released Anne hands over her money and future to him. She soon weeps, however, when she finds out that he has another woman, and it was she who was symbolically there to meet him at the prison gates. Julian swears to end things with this other woman and commit to Anne, but before he can do so her past catches up to her and she is returned to jail. The novel's prose is a winding road, here clever and here needlessly obfuscating. Not possible for me to say how much of this is Sarrazin's original and how much the translation. One thing for certain is that this new edition could have used a solid proofreading; while it looks like spell-check caught everything it could, incorrect words sometimes pop up in the text, for instance: "In the latter case, lied just have to arrange the tables and dust a little" (p.34). Think that should be "he'd just have to...", yeah? "Julien makes suit of that..." (p.105). Nah, he made sure of it. "I can't hop, or eyed balance myself..." (p.109). Or even balance herself.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    It being the most unprecedented year yet, I have decided to take this opportunity to work my way through my untouched collection of books. Having no real idea which are worth the read vs not, this is the year I finally read them all. This untouched collection of books includes Astragal (1965) by Albertine Sarrazin. I had higher hopes for this book. The cover reads "As alive as a Godard movie, this lost classic of 60's French literature is back" and includes an introduction by Patti Smith. After It being the most unprecedented year yet, I have decided to take this opportunity to work my way through my untouched collection of books. Having no real idea which are worth the read vs not, this is the year I finally read them all. This untouched collection of books includes Astragal (1965) by Albertine Sarrazin. I had higher hopes for this book. The cover reads "As alive as a Godard movie, this lost classic of 60's French literature is back" and includes an introduction by Patti Smith. After finishing the book, I feel confident in reinforcing that Patti Smith is 100% cancelled. Not only for being racist, but also her taste in books. This is a semi autobiographical novel, and I found that the wikipedia page about Sarrazin was far more intrigueing than the story (sorry not sorry). I think it was very well written which is why I will give it two stars, but the story as a whole feels extremely underdeveloped. I finished reading this for the sake of finishing it, which is unfortunate because I feel like it had the potential to be BETTER. I didn't feel fully informed while reading, I kept having the feeling that I was missing out on important bits of information - yet how would that be possible, because I read all of it? I think Sarrazin left out pieces that the reader would have benefited from because she was writing her own story. This is probably easy to do, but it did a disservice to the connection the reader would develop to the characters and story. The narrative was in Anne's point of view the whole time and I never felt truly connected to her. Julian felt like a passing ship in the night, a figment of Anne's imagination. It led me to believe they wouldn't end up together....but clearly they did...so why isn't there better character development? Overall this was disappointing. I felt like I was listening to the summary of a story, and only receiving little glimmers and bits of it. I did like the way it ended, i'll give it that. But I wouldn't really recommend reading it if you haven't already started it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ariella

    I came across this book after my sister saw it in a bookshop and showed me because the face on the cover looks like mine. The face is the author's and, truly, the lure of this book is the story of the women behind it--French-Algerian, abandoned, adopted, imprisoned. In the opening scene, Anne (Albertine Sarrazin's nickname) escapes from the window of a prison, fracturing the astragalus bone of her ankle when she jumps. Sarrazin's description of the pain and, indeed, all her descriptions, are int I came across this book after my sister saw it in a bookshop and showed me because the face on the cover looks like mine. The face is the author's and, truly, the lure of this book is the story of the women behind it--French-Algerian, abandoned, adopted, imprisoned. In the opening scene, Anne (Albertine Sarrazin's nickname) escapes from the window of a prison, fracturing the astragalus bone of her ankle when she jumps. Sarrazin's description of the pain and, indeed, all her descriptions, are intense and compelling. But, for me, the lure of the book also left it metaphorically and thematically unsatisfying. While Anne says she wants to be independent, she isn't never really free from the men who obsess her, save her, buy her. In reality, such freedom for Sarrazin may be difficult, even impossible, but in a narrative, semi-fictional form, I wanted it for Anne. Sarrazin's ending was certainly tragic; she died from a failed liver operation. Towards the end of the book, I felt she was holding back, which made her appear callous. The connection she'd established at the beginning was lost. But maybe she just doesn't feel the need to justify herself to anyone, even her readers, who she both courts and withdraws from. I wanted more from her, but maybe I don't have the right to ask.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carol Switzer

    I enjoyed this little gem very much. The author's youth comes through so well it feels refreshing and alive notwithstanding the very troubling setting and circumstances in which the protagonist lives. Funny to have read this on the tail of Suspended Sentences a dreamlike sequence describing similar characters in a very different way.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Work people: Please stop recommending me books...especially when they are immediately available from the library. Andy, you too! (Caliban's War is in the queue!) I never really liked the name Ann. Or Anne. (Sorry Mom!) But now I can see how it could be sexy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Perhaps if I had read this book at the age of 21, I would now be a little more like Patti Smith and a little less like me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mind the Book

    Postgymnasial, Godard-artad "The guy gets out his Gauloises and gives me a light."-prosa, som tyvärr inte hade något att säga mig (nu). Ångrar att jag inte läste på franska, men ville så gärna ta del av Patti Smiths passionerade förord: "In 1976, as I traveled the world, I carried 'Astragal' in a small metal suitcase [...] and the same black jacket I wore with careless defiance on the cover of 'Horses'. It was a Black Cat paperback edition..."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Viktorija B.

    First of all - one of the best introductions to a book I've ever read. such a warm, loving way to start it. and second - it's so easy to just live Anne's world. her words and her speech are so well translated, I could hear her words in my mind as I read and as I didn't. I kept her in my thoughts even when the book was put down. very atmospheric, almost claustrophobic in the beginning - then free and airy. I'm definitely going to talk about this book for years to come.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Connor

    A solid 3.5/5 for me. I think it’s very similar in tone, pacing, and theme as an early Godard film. There were sections I liked, particularly the ending, but I found the middle of the book dragged a bit. It had elements of noir but without the pulp that drives them. Much more of philosophical and purgatorial feeling than I anticipated.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wally

    Anne, a young French woman, escapes prison by jumping over the wall. Two seconds of freedom, then she smashes her ankle bone – the astragalus of the title. She drags herself down the road and is picked up by Julien, another small-time criminal, who shelters her at his friends’ roadhouse, a place where she can hide and heal in anonymity. The break is bad, though, and she must go to the hospital and endure several intense surgeries as well as the endless boredom of hospital rooms. She and Julien f Anne, a young French woman, escapes prison by jumping over the wall. Two seconds of freedom, then she smashes her ankle bone – the astragalus of the title. She drags herself down the road and is picked up by Julien, another small-time criminal, who shelters her at his friends’ roadhouse, a place where she can hide and heal in anonymity. The break is bad, though, and she must go to the hospital and endure several intense surgeries as well as the endless boredom of hospital rooms. She and Julien fall in love, and after a long spell at the roadhouse, they are finally free to live together – but how long can their love last? I really liked this novel, partly on the merit of an introduction by Patti Smith, who says she carried this around with her for years.

  22. 4 out of 5

    b e a c h g o t h

    Recommended by one of my favourite writers, Patti Smith, as one of the books that made her who she is today so obviously I was really looking forward to reading this. Albertine writes so so well... Almost too well? She managed to complicate a very simple story by writing so intensely.. Which I have yet to decide if it was beautiful or exhausting. I LOVED how she finished each chapter with a phrase so poetic it almost makes you gasp. But plot-wise... I struggled to love it like Patti did.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Audrey Pf

    A charming book. I felt such an intimate voice from the protagonist Anne. Beautiful prose. The madness of love, and obsession, passion and frustration. The quote on the front of the book is true - very much like a Godard film - in the best way. Patti's introduction, which I read after the novel, is endearing and spiriting, and I enjoyed it just as much as the story itself.

  24. 5 out of 5

    El

    I'm not at all ashamed to say that I want to read this book because of this article by Patti Smith. Suck. It. I'm not at all ashamed to say that I want to read this book because of this article by Patti Smith. Suck. It.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Olja

    I love the book more because of the irresistible charm of Albertine Sarrazin and because of her short, unhappy life, full of passion and hope for it not to end so abruptly...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Juliana

    My review: https://theblankgarden.com/2019/04/29... My review: https://theblankgarden.com/2019/04/29...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sidsel

    "I'd been locked up too young to have seen much of anything, and I'd read a lot, dreamed and lost the thread. For me, reality was distorted like everything else;.." This book was a whirlwind of emotions. A book about too much emotion in too little space. The book feels a bit claustrophobic a times because everything is happening all the time, Anne has so much going on all the time, and never gets to catch her breath. But I liked it, I liked the 60's beat-y vibes, I liked her overwhelmingly teenag "I'd been locked up too young to have seen much of anything, and I'd read a lot, dreamed and lost the thread. For me, reality was distorted like everything else;.." This book was a whirlwind of emotions. A book about too much emotion in too little space. The book feels a bit claustrophobic a times because everything is happening all the time, Anne has so much going on all the time, and never gets to catch her breath. But I liked it, I liked the 60's beat-y vibes, I liked her overwhelmingly teenage self, despite having been through so much so early in her life. I like that she's sort of all over the place, despite having severely broken her ankle. She's never still, reflecting, but always moving, scheming, loving, living out loud. The love affair with Julien becomes a bit much for me, her utter devotion and almost self-effacing behaviours are a bit immature and exhausting to keep being invested in. I think the intensity of the language becomes a bit tiring at times. But overall, I liked it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm Connell Wardlaw

    I bought this book because I'd never heard of it and it looked interesting. It was interesting, in a way, being something of a period piece from early 1960's France. It's an autobiography of a late-teen girl who breaks her ankle jumping from a prison wall. She is helped by various petty criminal groups, whilst her broken ankle is not treated as she dare not go to a hospital. Eventually she is admitted under an alias as the younger suster of an acquaintance. She undergoes an operation to remove t I bought this book because I'd never heard of it and it looked interesting. It was interesting, in a way, being something of a period piece from early 1960's France. It's an autobiography of a late-teen girl who breaks her ankle jumping from a prison wall. She is helped by various petty criminal groups, whilst her broken ankle is not treated as she dare not go to a hospital. Eventually she is admitted under an alias as the younger suster of an acquaintance. She undergoes an operation to remove the astragal bone of her ankle (and the title). This leaves her ankle fixed, unable to articulate. I have to admit I did not finish this book. It is elegantly written, no doubt about that, but it's not really about anything except monotony convalescing with low life. I can't say I found anything redeeming about either the narrator or anyone they encountered. The characters led aimless, squalid, idle lives funded off petty crime, and seemed quite proud of the fact. Presumably the real narrator spent her life more productively; she learned to write after all.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura Malkin

    My New Years resolution is to try, TRY and leave a review (beyond “yeah it’s great”) so please be kind. I was excited to read this book, and I’m a sucker for a cool cover. My cover is Sarrazin’s face black on bright, shocking pink. Lonely yet not alone, Anne is the young woman at the centre of this story, learning how to live alone again, and the trauma of loving someone who is ever so slightly out of reach (for whatever reason). For me, this has something of the Ferrante about it. The desponden My New Years resolution is to try, TRY and leave a review (beyond “yeah it’s great”) so please be kind. I was excited to read this book, and I’m a sucker for a cool cover. My cover is Sarrazin’s face black on bright, shocking pink. Lonely yet not alone, Anne is the young woman at the centre of this story, learning how to live alone again, and the trauma of loving someone who is ever so slightly out of reach (for whatever reason). For me, this has something of the Ferrante about it. The despondency of the central character, the trailing thoughts, unanswered questions and longing for something. Being a language nerd, I’m not sure if it’s their Romance language origins but this story is so full of heartbreak and love and passion and longing, so much longing; and I loved it so much.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Albertine Sarrazin's Astragal – a "lost classic of 60s French literature" – is a bittersweet story of rebellion and romance, written in incandescent prose. Penned from inside a prison cell, this semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of Anne (a name given to Albertine by her adoptive parents), a young woman who breaks her leg during a prison escape. She is picked up outside the jail by Julien, a petty thief, who carries her away on the back of his motorcycle. And as they travel together, a Albertine Sarrazin's Astragal – a "lost classic of 60s French literature" – is a bittersweet story of rebellion and romance, written in incandescent prose. Penned from inside a prison cell, this semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of Anne (a name given to Albertine by her adoptive parents), a young woman who breaks her leg during a prison escape. She is picked up outside the jail by Julien, a petty thief, who carries her away on the back of his motorcycle. And as they travel together, a much longer journey begins. Patti Smith's introduction – which tells how she spent her last 99 cents on this novel in Greenwich Village in 1968 – is an ode to any book that changes your life, just as much as it is an essay about this one in particular.

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