Vernon Subutex 1: A Novel by Virginie Despentes (translated by Frank Wynne):
That day in December 2002, they had been lining up to buy smoked salmon because Bertrand was spending Christmas with a Norwegian girl he wanted to impress with his culinary sophistication. He had convinced himself that smoked salmon could be bought in this shop in the fifth arrondissement and nowhere else. Having trekked here on the Métro, they were waiting to be served. The line snaked out onto the sidewalk, it would be a forty-minute wait at least. Vernon had gone off to buy cigarettes, and it was on the radio in the bar-tabac that he heard the news that Strummer was dead. He had gone back to Bertrand. No way, you’re shitting me! You think I’d joke about something like that? Bertrand had turned pale, though he still waited and bought his salmon and two bottles of vodka. They had walked back through the second arrondissement singing “Lost in the Supermarket” and remembering the time they had seen Strummer play a solo gig together. Vernon had only gone to keep Bertrand company, but once he got there, an unexpected surge of emotion made him waver, he had pressed his shoulder against his friend and felt tears well in his eyes. He had never said a word about this, but on the day Joe Strummer died, he had confessed and Bertrand had said, Yeah, I know, I saw, but I didn’t want to bust your balls about it. Strummer … fuck! Who’s left worth talking about?
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