Head of Zeus – 250 pages
A celebrated French bestseller, this novel in verse that captures the mundane and the beautiful, the blood and sweat, of working on the factory floor in the processing plants and abattoirs of Brittany.Unable to find work in his field, Joseph Ponthus enlists with a temp agency and starts to pick up casual shifts in the fish processing plants and abattoirs of Brittany. Day after day he records with infinite precision the nature of work on the production line: the noise, the weariness, the dreams stolen by the repetitive nature of exhausting rituals and physical suffering. But he finds solace in a life previously lived.Shelling prawns, he dreams of Alexandre Dumas. Pushing cattle carcasses, he recalls Apollinaire. And, in the grace of the blank spaces created by his insistent return to a new line of text – mirroring his continued return to the production line – we discover the woman he loves, the happiness of a Sunday, Pok Pok the dog, the smell of the sea.In this celebrated French bestseller, translated by Stephanie Smee, Ponthus captures the mundane, the beautiful and the strange, writing with an elegance and humor that sit in poignant contrast with the blood and sweat of the factory floor. On the Line is a poet‘s ode to manual labor, and to the human spirit that makes it bearable.
After studying literature and social work, Joseph Ponthus worked for over ten years as a social worker and special needs teacher in the suburbs of Paris. In 2012 he co-authored Nous… La Cite (The Suburbs are Ours). His most recent work is A la Ligne (On the Line). He lived and worked in Brittany, France when he died aged 42 in 2021.