Luc Sante's Resume is a personal account of cultural and socio-economical changes throughout Europe during the mid 20th century, and how they potentially correlated to impact his life. Resume consists of nine different life summaries, each with introductory constants (Luc Sante birth details, Lucien Sante's work history), before an opposing tale is expressed to conclude each paragraph. These vary in positive and negative connotations, but the concluding argument Sante's work puts forth aligns with the cliche that 'every action has a reaction'.
In essence, one slight tweak in his life, or resume, starts a chain effect that differs each life from one another. Sante constructs his own identity foremost, but also the identities of his parents to a lesser extent, and does so using various literary techniques. Repetition is the most prominent technique throughout, both in sentencing and theme, but techniques such as formal register and tone allow Sante to swing between personal and impersonal modes of address, which challenges the reader to make their own assumptions of what Sante is implying.
The repetition of each paragraph's opening statement in Resume helps to create Sante's identity as a calculated individual, in which his movements are highly calculated. Each starts with two pieces of information, for the most part identical and very rarely opposing, and are divulged along the lines of "I was born in 1954 in Verviers, Belgium, the only child of Lucien and Denise Sante.
Following the bankruptcy of my father's employer…" (Sante: 3). This is a major theme of Sante's work, in which the reader is assured the opening statements are true, but are then advanced upon with conflicting stories as each paragraph continues. The identity Sante creates is one of order and repetition, before the supposed embellished stories later in the paragraph construct the identity of a man hoping to escape from said mundane repetition.
His opening statement establishes the beginning of a new tale, but it can also be viewed as another chance for Sante to change the events in his control into something desirable, or different, in the knowledge he can never change his origins. This repetitive identity can also be linked throughout the paragraphs, as opposing as they are, to the text's primary themes. The importance of money is a constant in Resume, as paragraphs beginning with Sante's father losing his job ends with his son struggling to survive, living in poverty and fear, or performing criminal acts.
In the two paragraphs in which Lucien Sante did not fall out of an iron foundry job, Luc was educated and lived either a life of debauchery, or a life as a Jesuit. The two vehemently opposed each other, but they both allowed Luc to live by privileged means. This idea dictates that Sante believes the absence of parental income and support almost consigns the child into a poor life near unchangeable, insinuating that Sante's identity is one driven by pessimism. Sante also constructs identities for his parents, the two individuals featured apart from himself.
He does this not by describing their characteristics and idiosyncrasies, but by stating the major events they were involved in that eventually shaped his life. Often throughout Resume, Sante describes how his parents shipped the family to a distant country, or at the very least away from Verviers, inevitably failing in their quest to start a new, better life. It is also worth noting the one time Sante's tale concludes as one of happiness and success, there is little parental involvement in his choices and they are rarely mentioned after the first two sentences.
Sante portrays his parents as trying to do the best for their child but having no luck in the way of health or money, however it is the last three paragraphs in which his construction of their identity is final. The third last concluded with the line "I had no news from my parents. After a while I couldn't remember their faces" (10). This transitioned into the penultimate paragraph, which finished: "my father's plan was to parlay the stake amassed from selling off their possessions into a small fortune at the baccarat table. It didn't work" (ibid).
Sante has constructed an identity of his parents in which they are either absent or chronic failures, out of luck and out of hope. This is finalized in the final paragraph, in which Sante merely states in a depressed setting, "my parents sat on the floor" (11). They are perceived as flops previously, but as Sante's text draws to an end, they are constructed as two people entirely defeated. Sante writes with a formal register, allowing an insight into his personal life without revealing much in the way of personal feelings or thoughts.
It is this technique that draws the text away from potential reader compassion, as the construction of this cold, calculated individual that has little response to life-defining moments is hard to sympathize with. As opposed to traditional memoirs Sante's life story is seen to be devoid of human sentiment, as the majority of his paragraphs end with depressing conclusions and cold, impersonal summations. However, this technique is used to exemplify the difference in his final paragraph, which is consumed by small details.
Sante lists off his surrounding elements in one focussed area, detailing its deteriorating state as dust, cold air, insects, rodents, snow and soot (11) began to accumulate. Sante reveals a true isolation and dejection, allowing the reader to understand his personal battle while constructing an identity that mirrors Resume as a whole. In a text that is full of confusion and surprise as to what is reality and what is false, Sante's final paragraph opposes all those that came before it, questioning the reader to decipher his intention one last time.
Resume can be viewed from many different viewpoints, as the legitimacy of each paragraph is no more valid than the other before it. Sante poses a question to the reader in each tale, making he/she debate it's merits both as a single life story or stacked up next to the others, but the prevalent thought that comes from the text as a whole is Sante's need for competing and replacement identities. Themes of escape, distancing from reality, unfulfilled desire and even slight schizophrenia can be picked out of his work, but these are a result of a complex constructed identity.
Sante places himself in all corners of the Earth, from Marrakesh to El Salvador, Congo and the U. S. A, but rather than identifying himself as a globe-trotter, these are more an indication to Sante craving the unknown, in the idea that anywhere outside of his resume is better than inside it. By using a confident, informative tone that infers each is entirely plausible, his identity even at the text's conclusion is unknown, perhaps the result intended from the beginning.