Character Crush: Octave Parango of 99 Francs

Octave Parango is an ad designer and the main character of the acclaimed French novel 99 Francs by Frederic Beigbeder (aka 9.99: A Novel, in English). Octave is a creator. In fact, he is a genius—at least from the point of view of his superiors. Not one brainless idiot for the last 2,000 years has ever been as powerful as Octave. You see, Octave is the man who imposes his ideas on the flock of consumers.

Octave is young, handsome, cynical, sloppy, sweet and sarcastic. He only wears trendy brands (sometimes he makes them trendy), drives a luxury car, can seduce any girl (or guy), and most importantly—in contrast to all these directors, senior managers, vice presidents and so on—Octave isn’t afraid of losing his job in the advertising agency.

Why? Because he is the best creative designer, and there is no doubt!

Octave has no equal in the universe. He is engaged in advertising. He decides what you will want tomorrow. For him: “man—it is the same product as everything else.” In some ways, he is a god. He has plenty of money, women and cocaine.

But, on the other hand, Octave is miserable, lonely and unhappy. Also, he is angry, cynical, devoured by his own bile and hatred for the world. He hates the job that has made him powerful.

He has everything, and yet he has nothing. He’s alone in a huge apartment, has intimate relationships only with questionable-content videocassettes. The hamster that lived in his office was Octave’s only friend. He lives on drugs, hates his job and amuses himself by making bloody writings on the walls in the toilet of his own office.

Why do I want to write about this character? Probably because he is incredibly human and doesn’t hide it.

Octave looks as tired and beat-up as any junkie. But as soon as he begins to talk, he becomes a different person. You can tell him everything, because he understands a lot more about this rotten world than all of us put together.

I always thought that people became cynical and critical for two reasons: either they are very stupid, or they understand a lot more than the rest of us. See the wrong side of the world, mired in advertising and seeking to impose someone else’s will upon humanity, and you end up like Octave, whose job is to impose that will. As a result, he both idolizes and despises himself.

I have always been attracted to those men—the mysterious, complex and contradictory. But at the same time they are very naïve and sincere, without pompous politeness or gentlemanly habits. They inspire maternal feelings in me. Can Octave be saved? Read the book to find out.

99 Francs (French edition) – $16.46
9.99 (English edition) – $22.74

Korah Morrison is an internet marketing specialist, copywriter and consultant at Writing is her hobby. She likes to write essays on any topic and for everyone who tells her: “Hey! Write my essay please!”