My grandfather brought his mistresses home and would make love to them in my mother’s bed, with her in it. My grandmother, who had been married once before, asked for a divorce. After threatening, briefly, to kill himself with a kitchen knife, my grandfather acquiesced. My grandmother got married again, this time to a gigolo, and my grand-father married his secretary, who was thirty years his junior. For their honeymoon, he sent her on vacation with my mother, since business kept him in Paris and he couldn’t “just take time off.” My grandfather wished to take revenge on my grandmother for leaving him. He decided to inform on his ex-father-in-law for nonpayment of taxes, so that he would be audited. My grandmother’s father, who owed the government a great deal of money, jumped off the Eiffel Tower. The union of my grandfather and his wife produced a little girl. When he brought his mistresses home, he made love to them in my aunt’s bed, with her in it. At about this time, my grandmother’s third husband began to take an interest in my mother, who was young, beautiful, and naive. Finally he ran off with a stewardess whom he hit with his car and with whom he fell in love while they were filling out the accident report. My grandmother threw herself out the window of her apartment. Soon afterward, my grandfather’s second wife committed suicide by jumping off the roof of her building. My grandfather made a new life with a lady by the name of Jeanine, but we called her Lolotte. Lolotte changed her hair color every two days. She died of lung cancer. My grandfather was almost as sad as the day he lost his dog Xenophon.


—Translated from French by Lorin Stein