All This Has Nothing To Do With Me – Monica Sabolo

All This Has Nothing To Do With Me is an English translation of a 2013 fiction novel by Monica Sabolo originally entitled Tout Cela N’a Rien À Voir Avec Moi. The novel follows the love affair between the mysteriously named ‘MS’ and her work colleague, the equally mysteriously named XX. Sabolo details the events from MS’s point of view, the ups and downs of the relationship and the psychological stresses of love and heartbreak.

Personally, I do not care for the tone with which the novel starts. The bad news is, that this tone happens to be the attitude of the protagonist and therefore continues throughout the rest of the narrative. The very first page is written in a lecture style, using faux scientific language to explain the idea of ‘blind love’. That in itself I believe to be very clever, but the tone in which it is written is incredibly cynical and I struggle to find the concurrence between those two concepts, when science is meant to be considered objective.

This discordance is a theme which runs heavily throughout the entire book, and it is not something that worked particularly well in my own reading. There is a deliberate crossing of time frames, references and pictures that I found immensely confusing, and without reason: I did not feel that it added anything to the narrative or the reader’s understanding of events.

However, the format itself and the use of several different mediums to tell the story is certainly very quirky and fun. It really helps to show the agony of the narrator and the impact of each interaction of her psyche. The sentiment of the book in general is astonishingly evocative and apt for anyone who has felt unrequited love themselves. Sabolo’s treatment of the subject matter was, in my opinion, perfect. Because much of the novel blurs the line between fiction and reality, with the fictional facade that correlates strongly with the events of Sabolo’s life, it makes the book into an almost half-autobiography and that makes it more appealing to read. Well, with the exception of a few passages (such as the section with Monsieur Diakgite) which were frankly a little disturbing to imagine as a real life event.

The majority of my review thus far has been extensively negative, and yet, I cannot say I disliked the book. That is exactly my problem: I neither liked nor disliked it, but rather treated it with a sense of exaggerated indifference. By page 12, I already did not really care what happened to MS and although this feeling was alleviated a little at times, they were seldom. Similarly, I found the realism really refreshing, I was so pleased to find the idea of love being treated so factually, but simultaneously I realised that it does not make for good reading material. I also found myself skipping quickly over a lot of the pictures and other insertions because despite finding their function very interesting (i.e to show the near-obsession of the protagonist with the object of her love), they in themselves were not particularly noteworthy. I came to the end of the novel with the feeling that it was nice how the novel had ended, but not much more than that. And ‘nice’ to me is not an overly emotive or enthusiastic response to things that I have experienced.

Overall, the book suits its purpose of light reading and it is entertaining enough, and I can definitely see why it appeals to some readers. I just think that maybe those readers are not me.

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