Camille took her metal-tipped walking stick and her copy of The A to Z of Tools for Trade and Craft. It was the sort of thing she most liked to leaf through at special moments -- at breakfast, in her coffee break, or whenever she felt her heart sinking. ... It was an exhaustive listing with sections on compressed air, soldering, scaffolding, lifting gear, and scores of similarly promising headings. Camille read every entry from start to finish, including detailed specifications like jumbo weed hog, 1.1HP petrol engine, antirecoil bar, low-vibration solid transmission with reverse thrust, electronic ignition, weight 5.6 kg. Such descriptions -- and catalogs were full of them-- gave her profound intellectual satisfaction (understanding the object, how it fitted together, how it worked) as well as an intense lyrical pleasure. On top of the underlying fantasy of solving all the world's problems with a combined-cycle milling machine or a universal chuck tool, the catalog represented the hope of using a combination of power and ingenuity to overcome all of life's shitty obstacles. A false hope, to be sure, but a hope nonetheless. Thus did Camille draw her vital energy from two sources: musical composition and The A to Z of Tools for Trade and Craft. Ten years younger and she had also drawn on love, but she had really lost interest in that overused well. Love could give you wings, but it also knocked you off your feet, so it wasn't much of a bargain overall. Far less so than a ten-ton hydraulic jack, for instance.From this alone, I know Camille better than some people I've worked with for years. And I find her significantly more interesting, her nonexistent status notwithstanding. And this is in translation from the original French.
Well done, genre fiction. Well done indeed.