Below is an excerpt from Leslie Kaplan's 1982 fiction of the French factory revolts. For more on the book, recently released in an English edition (translated by Julie Carr and Jennifer Pap), see Jason E. Smith's review in our special summer issue, 1968 Now.

You go to a factory that makes headlights. It’s in a neighborhood just

outside the center, a little street. At last you’ve arrived. The factory

is there.

You see it, it’s in the courtyard, a cadaver without weight. It’s there, it

doesn’t move. Factory mass. You know it.

You are in front, in the courtyard, you think, you know it.

The factory is very big, in many pieces.

Disarticulated and full, the factory.

It’s there, it doesn’t move. The air is humid, the factory sweats.

From the metro to the factory a soft black space. You’re in it, you walk.

You turn in the soft space, you pass by the young woman.

She’s sitting on a chair in front of the door.

The young woman is sitting, she’s talking to her dogs. There is a bottle

on the ground, it’s not important.

The young woman is there, infinite.

Nothing and nothing. The world opens, the world opens in each place.

You are at the end. Things are. Chair and door, and behind, the buffet.

The buffet is large and brown. You see it through the window.

Heavy and large, the buffet. There’s also a table with chairs all around

it. The chairs are all the same.

The young woman is there, infinite.

Things in the room, you see them. Colors stand out.

The buffet is brown, the tablecloth is red, the sofa is green.

The curtains are white. Blue tiles on the floor. Yellow walls, so

many colors.

The bottle is on the ground, it’s not important.

The young woman is sitting, in front of the door. She’s talking to her

dogs. She is blond, bleached hair. You look at her. She has an apron

that wraps around her body.

She is there, on her chair. Skirt and sweater, and over it, the apron.

The body is underneath. Everything is there, everything.

Her legs hang off the chair. Legs, soft. On her feet are square shoes, a

little heavy.

The chair is in the street. All around, that black space.

The sky passes.

The young woman is there, sitting.

The apron ties behind, you’ve seen it. The face is marked, empty

traces. Skirt and sweater, and the full forms of the body.

One is pulled, one is pulled very far.

The street is open under the sky of the factory.

Soft open street. The paving stones, all the same.

The entrance gates are very high, splendid.

Weightless carcass, disarticulated and full,

being there, in the courtyard, it is there, the factory.

Parts, scraps and life, the factory.

And brick and tile. And in and out.

And right and left and brick and tile and soft and fat and turn and turn

and life and life and wood and nail and iron and iron and in and out

and turn and noise.

Never a cry. The factory.

Parts scraps and life, the factory, and iron and iron and life and life and

brick and tile and in and out and life and life and nail and nail.

You don’t know, you can’t know.

The street is a street under the sky of the factory.

You enter the courtyard.

You see the crates. The boards are there, laid out.

Blue plastic tarps at the back.

You enter the courtyard.

In a corner, the staircase. The staircase is iron, fragile.

Above, the line floats.

You go up.

The staircase is fragile. Iron, how wretched.

Your foot is on the step, open sky. The iron is so thin.

You go up. The woman in front wears a raincoat.

You go up. The sexes are separated.

The men stay below.

Across is the machine shop where the presses are. You never go there.

The line is above, floating.

You look at the woman in front. She has a full waist.

You love her, you love her so much.

You go up by the iron stair.

The street is below.

The staircase is fragile. You rest a little on the landings, you see the pillars.

The landings are made of wood. You go up.

There are pillars at every floor.

Above, the line, floating.

You look at the woman in front. You know her raincoat, you know that fabric.

You’re in the workshop with the assembly line.

You’re sitting down. The line is going to start.

Palpable air, blank memory.

You’re there, you’re sitting. Stool. Cartons.

The ceiling is very high. There are pillars.

The workshop floats a little. Thick air, high ceiling.

The line moves on, flat, in the middle of the boxes.

The boxes are easy, you make them with your hands.

Your hands are somewhere else. You think. Thought is sticky.

All around, the workshop.

In the thick air, under the high ceiling, you make boxes, you think.

Thought doesn’t come out, it stays inside.

Nothing is taken apart. You think.

High ceilings, pillars. You are in the thick air.

Hands are somewhere else, you think a sticky thought.

You look, you think.

From the line, you look.

Your eyes are open. Around your eyes, space.

Space is silent. Holes of noise, holes of noise everywhere.

Open, in the silent and noisy texture of space, the eyes see.

The silence of the crates is terrible. In the body, all this noise.

The eyes are there, they never stop seeing.

Thick and soft air. Hands are on the boxes,

thought moves on the inside.

The cardboard is easy, it folds easily. Nothing is detached, you make.

The body is in space. In the body, the long thought and ceaselessly,

the little noises.

Things are gripped, thickness of the air.

The vaulted arch above, the high arch.

The air is red, it’s the workshop. Outside it might rain. The supervisor

walks the length of the line. She shows her wide skirt and her gold

teeth. Curved walls, rounded. The workshop is there, entire.

Excerpted from Excess—The Factory by Leslie Kaplan. Copyright 2018 by Leslie Kaplan. Published in May by Commune Editions. All rights reserved.

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