Home > 1970, 20th Century, About an author, French Literature, Gary, Romain, Wednesdays with Gary > Wednesdays with Romain Gary, Part Fifteen

Wednesdays with Romain Gary, Part Fifteen

L’angoisse du roi Salomon by Romain Gary. 1979. English title: King Solomon. (OOP, used copies available)

Gary_LecturesL’angoisse du roi Salomon is the last book by Romain Gary and it was published under the pen name Emile Ajar. The narrator of the story is Jean, a young cab driver who met Monsieur Salomon his taxi. Monsieur Salomon is eighty-five years old and made a fortune in the clothing industry. Now, he’s doing good deeds by welcoming SOS Bénévoles (“Mayday Charity”) in his home. When Jean explains that he borrowed money with two friends to buy the taxi, Monsieur Salomon gives him the money to reimburse the loan on condition that Jean takes care of home calls for people who need assistance. Jean will meet with Monsieur Salomon’s former lover and will discover the old man’s past.

This week, I’d like to share this quote with you:

Le silence aussi a des variétés. Ou bien il ronronne, ou bien il vous tombe dessus et vous ronge comme un os. Il y a des silences qui sont pleins de voix qui gueulent et qu’on n’entend pas. Des silences SOS. Des silences comme on ne sait pas ce qui leur arrive, d’où ça vient, il faudrait des ingénieurs. On peut toujours se boucher les oreilles, mais pas le reste. Silence also comes in many varieties. Either it purrs or it falls down on you and gnaws on you like a bone. Some silences are full of bawling voices that nobody hears. SOS silences. Silences like you don’t know what happened to them, where they come from, you’d need engineers. You can always shut you ears but not the rest. Translation reviewed by Erik McDonald.

Silences have different textures according to the moment, the place or who you share them with. Silences can be as warm as a comfortable blanket or as cold as a North wind. They can be peaceful or disquieting, meaningless or loaded with repressed emotions. We’ve all tasted these different types of silences. Gary has his way to describe them.

Next week will be our last Wednesday with Romain Gary and May will be Romain Gary Literature Month on this blog.

  1. April 23, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I started my pick for the month a few days ago. I can’t imagine this being written by an American author. Not giving away the title yet.


    • April 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm

      I’m SO curious to see which one you picked.


  2. April 23, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Hi, Emma! That’s one cool quote. L’Angoisse du roi Salomon (The Anguish of King Solomon) was another fun read. I remember enjoying that one a lot. It’s not the best Ajar (that would be Gros-Calin ), but it’s near close.

    What would you recommend I read next, I’ve read all his books and I know so well that there’s nothing quite like him, but do you know anyone who is a little bit close? 🙂

    Here are some of my favorite quotes from King Solomon:

    “Life always runs faster than you do.”

    “Some people don’t turn on the gas because they know someone is waiting for a phone call from them.”

    “You must have a bit of luck, of course, but luck is like a woman, it must be desired.”

    “There are some things that are so conspicuous by their absence that the sun might just as well go and hide it’s face.”

    “If you aren’t soft-hearted, that means you don’t have any heart at all.”

    “I sat down on the stairs and listened to the rest of the song from a distance, and when it was finished I listened to the silence, because it’s always silence that has the last song.”

    Oh, and BTW, I can’t wait to get the book La promesse de l’aube by Joann Sfar ! Gotta save money. 🙂

    See ya next week.


    • April 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      Great quotes. Do you have a book of Gary’s quotes too?
      Who else would I recommend having Gary in mind? William Somerset Maugham and Phillip Roth. These are the two names that came to mind when I read your question.


  3. April 24, 2014 at 3:39 am

    One of things I’ve noticed about Gary through your posts is that he has quite a range. Each book seems to be different. Am I right?


    • April 24, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      His books are different but have a common voice that’s entirely him. You can pick the similarities after a few ones.


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