Vernon Subutex 1: A Novel by Virginie Despentes (translated by Frank Wynne):
The first thing to go was his unemployment benefit. By post he received a copy of the report written by his adviser. He got along well with her. They had been meeting regularly for almost three years in the cramped cubicle where she killed odd houseplants. Thirtyish, bubbly, fake redhead, plump, well stacked, Madame Bodard liked to talk about her two sons, she worried about them a lot, regularly took them to see a pediatrician in the hope that he would diagnose some form of hyperactivity disorder that might justify sedating them. But the doctor told her they were in fine form and set her packing. Madame Bodard told Vernon how she had been to see AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses with her parents when she was young. Now she was preferred to listen to Camille and Benjamin Biolay and Vernon abstained from making any offensive remarks. They had talked at great length about his case: between the ages of twenty and forty-five, he had been a record dealer. These days, his chances of finding work were slimmer than if he had been a coal miner. Madame Bodard had suggested retraining. Together they had perused the various courses open to him—AFPA, GRETA, CFA—and they parted on good terms, agreeing to meet again to reassess the situation. Three years later, his application to study for a diploma in administration had not been accepted. From his point of view, he felt he had done everything he needed to do, he had become an expert in applications and prepared them with extraordinary efficiency. Over time, he had come to feel that his job was to bum around on the internet looking for vacancies that corresponded to his profile, then send off résumés so that they could spend back proof of his rejection. Who would want to train someone who pushing fifty? He had managed to dredge up a work placement in a concert venue out in the suburbs and another in an art-house cinema—but aside from going out occasionally, keeping abreast of the network problems on the RER and meeting people, it mostly left him with a dreary sense of waste.