Entretien avec l'écrivain Pierre Adrian, jeune auteur à succès

Interview with the writer Pierre Adrian, young successful author

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On his nose, Pierre Adrien wears round glasses which give him the air of someone who still has everything to do. But make no mistake: at not even 30 years old, here is an author who already has five books to his credit. A bibliography where the heroes advance into the breach. From the Roman streets to the national roads of France, Pierre Adrian stages adventures with a certain success, since he has already been awarded several important prizes, including that of Deux Magots in 2016, for La Piste Pasolini. For Hast, the author tells why clothing is something that matters in his texts, and in life.

What importance do you attach to the exercise of description in your books and, even more precisely, to what concerns the description of the silhouettes and the appearance of your characters?

On the occasion of the release of my latest book, Les Bons Garçons, a friend told me that she had the impression of watching a film while reading it. I thought it was a beautiful tribute. I belong to an image generation. People my age, we feed ourselves a lot of visual elements. In my novels, to show a character, I need to focus on their silhouette, on their body. And so this involves moments of describing the clothes. In The Good Boys, in fact, my main characters are ragazzi from the northern districts of Rome, near Piazza Bologna, from the local fascist bourgeoisie in the 1960s. Profiles which are linked to a particular political habit. The pariolini as they are called, have their own clothes: a leather jacket and tight jeans, a polo shirt or turtleneck depending on the season, ankle boots. On their noses, they have Ray-Ban sunglasses, Aviator model - it's their trademark. These are elements which seem innocuous, but which, in the book, absolutely had to be staged to best approach reality. In The Good Boys, as in the other books I have written, clothing is always a marker. It says the social class to which we belong, the movement.

For Les Bons Garçons, what kind of work did you do before writing to represent your characters as best as possible from a visual point of view?

I did a lot of research at the National Library in Rome. I went through old newspapers, I collected piles of period photos, particularly of political demonstrations, where we could see the silhouettes of the people whose lives I wanted to tell about. I was also inspired by what I could see in Italian films from the 60s and 70s, those of director Ettore Scola, or in the latest works of Pasolini. I even listened to podcasts in Italian on all these themes, where we talk about clothing. Documentation work is extremely important.

To conclude the Italian part of this interview, let's talk for a moment about the book that you dedicated in 2015 to the director Pier Paolo Pasolini, La Piste Paolini. The man was flamboyant, with an unmistakable style…

There is a personality in Pasolini, an extraordinary charisma. He is a pure provincial who went to Rome to make a career. In the early 1950s, he wore loose, airless pants and ragged shirts. What is interesting about Pasolini is that he is constantly driven by a form of anxiety for death and love for life, for youth. He refuses to age and that shows in his clothes. At 40, he dresses as if he were twenty, with bell bottom pants, tight jeans, loose shirts and perfectos and those unchanging glasses with smoked lenses. He wants at all costs to continue to please, to belong to what is young. More generally, I also find that Italy is the absolute country of costumes. When you look at old photos of Pasolini, or Marcelo Mastroianni, Alberto Sordi or Vittorio Gassman, there is a way of wearing the costume that is unique. Their jacket sticks to their skin. I'm always fascinated by people who know how to dress elegantly in countries where it's very hot in summer. I often think of a short story by the author Dino Buzzati, The Bewitched Jacket: the story of a man who has a suit made by a small local tailor and as soon as he puts his hand in his pocket, he takes out a bank note. There's all of Italy in there.

Apart from Italy, another of your favorite things is cycling. You practice it at a good level, and you have even written about it, with the publication in 2018 of the book Le Tour de France by two children of today. In the professional peloton, how can cyclists differentiate themselves from each other in terms of style, when they all wear the same uniform, from helmet to shorts?

In cycling, or on a bike, elegance goes beyond what you wear. It is above all a matter of position. There are runners who are beautiful to watch pedaling. It all depends on how you position yourself on the bike, how you stand on the pedals, or when you are in a “dancer” position, going uphill. For example, I find that the young Dutchman Mathieu Van der Poel is a magnificent cyclist. He has a feline side. When he is standing on the bike, his shoulders are perfectly straight, his upper body does not move. This is also the case for the great Classics riders, such as the Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. These guys only move their hips when they ride, it's extraordinary. That’s fundamental elegance. Conversely, Christopher Froom, who, however, is a four-time winner of the Tour de France, has absolutely no interest from this point of view. Froom is packed on his machine. We also need to talk about the physical appearance of the runners. Before, the latter did not have the same gears, and their bodies were more massive to move the bike forward. Today, as they wind so much, they have skinny bodies and their calf muscles have shrunk. It's quite strange. On the other hand, the introduction of compulsory helmets in 2003 erased the face of the cyclist, and I believe that this was not well received in the peloton. This contributed to a sort of standardization of styles whereas until then, cyclists could stand out in this way: I am thinking, for example, of Laurent Brochard's long hair or Marco Pantani's famous bandana. Today's fashion, if I really had to characterize one, I would say that it is the wearing of a sort of mask to protect oneself from the sun, like skiers. Consequence, too: we really no longer see the faces of the athletes at all, we no longer see their expressions, their grins, their pain. Peloton fashion influences Sunday runners. When I cycle around the Longchamps racecourse, just outside Paris, I come across a lot of guys who have all the gear, with the mask, and these very modern, refined jerseys, with long shorts, almost aerodynamic. For my part, I remain very classic, old-fashioned, with short bib shorts, à la Fausto Coppi.

Do you think you have the look of a writer? And, by the way, would you be able to define what a writer's look is?

I have a very urban style, which balances between partying and football. When I go to literary events, like fairs or award ceremonies, the way I dress always stands out a little. Once, at the Nîmes biography fair, I showed up at the inauguration reception in Air Max sneakers with a loose sweater, even though it was very formal. The author Gonzague Saint-Bris, with his aristocratic demeanor, looked at me in detail, making a pout of impossible disgust, as if I had nothing to do there. It made me laugh, but I can understand: there are places, occasions, where I should make a little more effort, all the same. That said, when Gonzague de Saint-Bris learned that I had won the Prix des Deux Magots, he was imtely more pleasant. Today, I have the impression that literature is moving from the Parisian left bank, very quiet, very classical, to the right bank. Writers of my generation have no problem presenting themselves like any other person their age, and that's a good thing. One does not need to play a Germanopratin role to write. And then we must not forget that among the most recognized writers, some don't really have a style: Houellebecq doesn't look like much, for example.

How are you dressed when it comes to sitting and writing?

When it comes to writing, I'm a morning person. I am always very effective right after waking up. As a result, I often find myself writing in pajamas or a Sergio Tacchini tracksuit. And wearing Birkenstocks. The premium on comfort. I only really get dressed at the very end of the morning, after clearing my head a bit by cycling. Before all that, I write. Ciao ragazzi!