The A26 by Pascal Garnier
French Noir fiction
original title L’a 26
Translator by Melanie Florence
Source – Review copy
I mention a lot about the late french writers Pascal Garnier’s life in my first review of his debut in english translation .I would add this is the third book by Gallic fiction ,I ‘ve been sent and I so pleased they did send me all three because Pascal Garnier was a writer that it is impossible to compare with any other writer ,he seems to be a true one-off .
Yolande could have been anywhere from twenty to seventy .She had a blurry texture and outline of an old photograph.As if she was covered in a fine dust .Inside the wreck of an old woman there was a young girl .
She had been in the house so long she hadn’t aged it seemed.
So when this his latest translation into English fell through my door, two things flashed in my mind reading the blurb on the back first was hitch-hiker guide to the Galaxy (mainly the not wanting a road to be built which is of course the starting point of that book ),the other was league of gentlemen,the UK comedy series and the characters Tubbs and Edward ,they live together like Yolande and Bernard in this book and are also brother and sister .In fact that isn’t where the comparisons end Yolande has been stuck in the house since world war two ,it turns out she had a liaison with a german solider and that made her exclude post war so she got more and more of a recluse her only out look on the world is the little peephole or “arsehole on the world ” as she calls it .So since 1945 she hasn’t been out and now the diggers bulldozers are bearing down into her world (the exact time of this event isn’t clear but one feels it is in the last twenty years ,this would be about right as the road is a link from central France to the port of Calais and a lot of work was done to this road in the nineties as it is the main road people use from the channel tunnel .so does the road get built that is up to Bernard Yolande’s brother a retired train worker ,who himself is terminally ill (people dying or on the verge of death finding new lease of life is a recurring theme in Garnier’s books his other book how’s the pain that I read last year and will be reviewing next month also had a similar theme ) but this fight has given him ,a new darker lease of life defending his sister from the road builders .
As he was about to get back into the car ,Bernard felt as if someone’s gaze was burning into the back of his neck .The moon pierced the clouds like a cigarette hole in a black-hole curtain .As with Maryse ,the moon was full .Pure chance.But that wouldn’t stop them talking of a serial killer ,the full-moon murder .
What is he up too ?Bernard at night in the dark
Well as you can see another darkly odd piece of the French world ,this could almost be a documentary you see on channel Four “the French recluse and the road builders “.Garnier was a clever writer we see as little as possible apart from the main characters and the plot there is no fancy dressing in this story ,so all this is squeezed into a mere 100 pages .This book will to appeal to fans of League of Gentlemen I feel as I said this is a French cousin of theirs ,Yolande and Bernard are very much a French Edward and Tubbs .The great thing is translating his French wiki page via google shows that in the twenty five years he was writing Garnier produce quite a few other books that will hopefully reach us in English . .
Have you read his book ?,