... an interior monologue that touches on many matters and, as with any complex individual, it is made up of many voices. This could be a stumbling block for many American readers, who prefer 'tell all' biographies with an omniscient narrator, but that would be their loss. In another contrast to those doorstop monstrosities, which do have their place, Frémon’s text is less than 100 pages ... a synthesis Frémon’s talents as an art critic, novelist, and artist’s friend: this combination is what makes Now, Now Louison special and well worth an hour or two of your time. It occurred to me while reading this book—and I was drawn in immediately—that Frémon would likely understand aspects of her French childhood that an American writer might not quite grasp ... An art critic who uses fiction to expose the limitations of the interpretation and understanding of art, all done with humor and insight—now that’s not something you encounter every day. And, when I say that Frémon is an art critic, I, of course, know that he is far more than that.
Cannot be considered anything other than a triumph. Now, Now, Louison reads like a tapestry of Bourgeois’ mind, with Frémon’s deep personal relationship with the artist enabling him to effortlessly convey an intimate knowledge of not just her life but the flow of her thoughts and ideas as well ... a touching tribute from one friend to another, a much more personal form than biography could ever capture, and a truly innovative piece of work. Instead of having Bourgeois’ early life told to us we experience it through it her eyes and senses, being transported to early and mid-twentieth century Paris and New York, and immersed in her thoughts, internal monologues, and personal life. Due to his closeness to Bourgeois, Frémon as Bourgeois is more than believable, and the unusual nature of the prose creates the kind of alchemy in the imagination that is only provoked by a high level of invention ... Frémon’s writing, excellently translated by Swensen, creates a nuanced and balanced tone that reflects the depth of Bourgeois’ personality.
The author’s intimate knowledge of Bourgeois’s personal relationships, life experiences, and outspoken views on a host of subjects are in evidence throughout Now, Now, Louison ... With impressive versatility, Cole Swensen negotiates the multiplicity of voices, while also maintaining the distinctive spoken quality Frémon achieves in his text ... arguably Swensen’s greatest accomplishments in Now, Now, Louison stem from her complex engagement with the relationship between fidelity and translation ... Beyond his technical achievement, Frémon dives into his own memory to create an impressive fictional portrait, creatively responding to both Bourgeois’s life and art. This portrait stylishly captures Bourgeois’s voice but of course only forms part of it ... It is the forceful, irascible, often funny nature of this voice that accounts for so much of the text’s joy, lifting it beyond its potential to be seen as exploitative. Taking as its lead both Bourgeois’s voice and creative practice, this is a book that eschews excessive biographical detail to convey something closer to life, 'a kind of portrait' captured through the combined artistry of writer and translator.