37°2 le matinsynopsis:
or 37.2 Degrees in the Morning (uk) or betty blue (USA)
Philippe Djian, 1986
this book - named after the approximate body temperature of a pregnant woman - is about Zorg, an easy-going repairman living life as it comes in a rundown seaside neighbourhood, who meets and develops a relationship with Betty, a beautiful, yet insecure 19-year old waitress. After a row, Betty discovers a manuscript of a novel Zorg had put together in his spare time. Convinced that Zorg is a writer and not a handyman, she sets fire to his bungalow and the two head off for the city. In Paris, they move in with Betty's old friend Lisa and her restaurateur boyfriend Eddy, and Betty tries to get Zorg's manuscript published. As rejection notices from potential publishers start pouring in, Betty's mental state begins to deteriorate. After receiving notice that Eddy's mother passed away, Zorg, Betty and Lisa accompany him to his hometown for her funeral.
Betty is as turbulent and short-tempered as she is beautiful. she starts to resort to extreme forms of violence and Zorg becomes genuinely concerned. betty complains about hearing voices in her head.
One day, Betty brings home a pregnancy test, which initially indicates that she is able to conceive Zorg's baby, much to his and her delight. However, shortly afterwards she finds that the test was false and that she is in fact incapable of having children. When she discovers this, she becomes hysterical and her manic depression reaches a climax.
on this book:
Philippe Djian is seen in France as a cult author, who started writing against the more affected style of his literary contemporaries, and indeed as his characters struggle and drift, trying to make sense of the world around them, a whole generation identified with them. '37Â°2 le matin' is his only book translated into english.
What is seen as the unique character of this novel is the unpretentiousness of the way the story is told; it reads almost like a stream of conciousness and yet manages to remain honest. It captures well the mind of 'a man' without ensoring much of anything or compromising its literary integrity.in 1986 a film based on this novel came out starring béatrice dalle as betty.in the beginning, when manic street preachers were formed by james dean bradfield (vocals and guitar), sean moore (drums), nicky wire (guitar) and flicker (bass), they called their band 'betty blue', after this novel and movie. later, when flicker left the band and nicky wire switched to bass, they went further as 'manic street preachers'. soon afterwards richey edwards joined the band.