The work of Vincent Message, Cora in the spiral (Threshold, 458 pages, 21 euros) did not appear in any list of literary prizes, this autumn. Yet it is a book punch, a spiral that will absorb its readers – especially executives in the Paris region, tossed between their office in open space, their business and the busy corridors of the metro.
They will meet Cora in the fall of 2010, a young mom in charge of marketing at Borélia Insurance Company, when she returns to work after her maternity leave. The company is in full moult, like a snake leaving his skin watch. It has just been bought by a group of construction and banks. The teams must therefore move, mobilize, recover. Because, as one of the new managers, Franck Tommaso says, “we should still recognize that we have in this house, many dead weight.” Cora, she keeps pace, accelerates, accelerates again. And little by little, Borelia, transforms herself into a black hole, absorbing all her energy: her life, her loves, her family. Body and soul, Cora goes one by one through the circles of hell.
The company does not exist
Vincent Message illuminates his story by deciphering here or there some ancient myths, like that of Orpheus and Eurydice. Does the book as a whole aim to build a parable of today's business? “The business in the singular does not exist, defends Vincent Message.” We do not render a service to a serious analysis by including in the same concept the small neighborhood bookstore and a group like Total.Also, we would miss the Really trying to make demonstrations and to launch generalities on these subjects, as well those of the type: “the company is atrocious” than the opposite: “the company is a place of blooming” “.
Cora in the spiral is not a leaflet, nor a socio-economic study. “I do not do Piketty's job, compiling data to learn lessons and find representative cases.”
However, the inspiration of the author is the fruit of an important work. Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Master of Creative Writing at the University of Paris VIII, Vincent Message has been working for ten years on this book. He devoured the most scholarly essays on the evolution of capitalism, from Marx to Boltanski. Recorder in hand, he listened to employees, insurance executives and strategy consultants tell their life, their work. He noted their tics of language, their ways of thinking.
The result of this point of view is confusing. By plunging into the book, insurers will find nothing wrong with the descriptions of their trades and their uses. Nor are consultants and other corporate restructuring specialists. As for the managerial novalanguage, it falls perfectly, without boasting, in the story. At Borélia, it's about setting up “a multichannel relationship”, “preaching more finely” contracts and being in working order for the “digital revolution”. Proof of realism, even the name of the magazine Challenges is quoted …
Power of the novel
The contours of Borelia have also been carefully traced. The company comes from the mutualist world – there are fragments of Axa and Groupama. It has 8,000 employees in total (so it's not a CAC 40 giant) and it is hit hard by the existential questions that follow the crisis of 2008. “I wanted this moment when the economic situation has amplified Violence details Vincent Message And I preferred to write about a company that is not 'excessive', as can start-ups or groups purely in finance. “
In the end, is it an imaginary report? An extension of the field of economic journalism? Vincent Message claims, him, the only writing of a novel. Nothing more, nothing less. But by taking full advantage of the competitive advantage held by the novelist on the reporter. “We do not cut the characters into slices,” says Vincent Messager, “Cora, I follow her in every aspect of her life, personal and professional.” A global vision that neither the reporters nor the judges manage to obtain, since they arrive after the fact and work on a reconstruction a posteriori. For the reader, the effect of identification with Cora, the vortex of its existence, is multiplied. “I attended twelve days of the trial of France Telecom, explains Vincent Message.And despite the time devoted to each case, to each person, what we learned from them was always fragmentary.I felt as a frustration of not having assisted from inside the changes of France Telecom. ” Cora in the spiral to overcome this frustration. To capture the real, including in the meanders of the economy, in the face of the press and judges, the novel wins without contest.