99 Francs by Frederic Beigbeder, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. In the year , Frederic Beigbeder has written a book and got fired because of it. That means that the novel, that has become a huge. Summary Octave is a publicist, one of the creative kinds. His past campaigns were crazily successful but it’s decided, he wants to be fired.

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Dr Tony Shaw: Frédéric Beigbeder: 99 Francs ()

Or, on the cover: In France, its title was 99 Francs. You get the idea.

It is part of the denunciation which goes under the name of “novel”, and is the cleverest thing about it. Not that it’s meant to be clever: It’s about, and mostly narrated by, one Octave Parengo, who works in a fictitious advertising agency in Soho in Paris in the original, but more about that later. He is writing this book, we learn, in order to get himself fired, and so claim his unemployment insurance.

Beigbedder it happens, Beigbeder was himself fired from his job with a real advertising agency after his bosses read 99 Francs, which is hardly surprising.

But beigbder now – this is his fourth novel – has achieved beigbedre fame in France, and this book should do pretty well over here, so don’t worry about him. Actually, this built-in success is the cleverest thing about the book.


The title is only the second-cleverest. The book is an attack on advertising, then.

I’m not going to be a nice narrator. So he shouts at, and dumps, his girlfriend when she tells him she’s pregnant; he does so much coke that he nearly drowns in his own nasal blood, while earlier on fredefic writes lunatic slogans in the bogs at Damione, where he beigbeded discussing a campaign.

His chat-up techniques have to be read to be imagined – they make the crudest of Loaded-style berks seem classy – and he earns far, far too much money. The problem is that the more outrageous his behaviour, the stronger his position in the ad world. So far, so one-joke.

And the problem with beigbedder – I should know, I once worked on its periphery – is that it really does corrode the stylistic tendons.

99 Francs – Wikipedia

Even through the miasma of translation you can tell that Beigbeder would love nothing more than for his book to be considered a successful synthesis of Bret Easton Ellis and Michel Houellebecq, with freddric good dash of Beigberer Burroughs. But the real model is Celine, tellingly quoted here by one of the protagonists during the novel’s climactic scene, the murder of a wealthy Miami resident.

This is a howl of rage, and it works all the better for not having been lovingly crafted. Certainly, Beigbeder is not precious about his art. The translator has moved the action from Paris to London, Octave’s flat from St-Germain to Hoxton, and so on; can one imagine Houellebecq accepting such changes with equanimity?


These geographical and cultural translations are by no means consistent or necessarily successful, by the way. The range of literary reference is far greater in France than it would be in the UK. The idea of a London ad exec quoting Gramsci, let alone Cioran, is flatly unfeasible; and we do not, here, wear pink Ralph Lauren polo shirts with sweaters knotted over the shoulders.

Book Review: “99 francs” by Frederic Beigbeder

Eurgh, that’s so horrible. The worst thing is that Octave rails against the sweaters. But even these distractions don’t harm the book’s thrust; its disgust can be quite perceptive. Of course, the French advertising industry is the most unintentionally hilarious on earth.

Ad execs quoting Gramsci? Only in France

You will recall their risible adverts for perfumes which arrive here around Christmas. Octave has very good reason to be ashamed of himself. But he and Beigbeder know their stuff. So, for all its faults, I applaud the sincerity of its passion, its spirit of revolt, its attempt to alert us to the fact that everything bejgbeder for sale, moronically and inescapably.

Brand names and slogans are unaltered, left open to our contempt.