Smoking Kills by Antoine Laurain

 

Smoking Kills by Antoine Laurain

French fiction

Original title –  Fume et Tue

Translator – Louise Rogers-Lalaurie

Source – review copy

I mentioned the other day that the Wodehouse prize for the funniest book in English had been stopped this year due to a lack of funny books. Here is another example of a great comic work in translation. Antoine Laurain is a writer I have reviewed four times before, his books are witty and usually have a turning point in them. This is a book he wrote a few years ago I imagine this was like the time in the UK when the smoking bans came in Place. This also moves the total of French novels under review on this blog to 98 nearly at the 100 mark.

I couldn’t believe it. Now that it was full stem ahead with the smoking ban, the rats were leaving the sinking ship. Vancourt had joined the enemy. He was as bad as the barman – another smoker – at the hotel d’Aubusson, who, ever since his hotel had implemented the ban had been vaunting the merits of his smok-free workplace.” I work better and can breathe ” he told me , earnestly. This man who from time to time used to share a smoke with me at the bar. And wasn’t the first smoker I had seen rally to the opinon of the majority. Strange how people are apt to turn their coats at once large scale .

I would call this effect the Simon Cowell effect when somesays something and every one around agrees with them

Fabrice Valentine is a fifty-year-old married Headhunter who is a compulsive smoker. When the rules at work change and he has to stop smoking there. This to him feels like his whole world is changing. After much discussion with his wife about this, it leads him to a hypnotherapist. But it also leads him back to the earliest years and how he ended up a two packet a day smoker. As his wife, Sidone has said he be best stopping. He does succeed the hypnotherapy has done its trick and this lifelong smoker has kicked his habit.That is until to one night he is coming home from work and is attacked and he fights off the man that attacks him.  In the end, throws him to the rails of an oncoming train he then runs home has a cigarette but the buzz doesn’t last like it when he was smoking. SO when a new colleague really e=getrs under his skin Fabrice has a clever plan !!

I would go walking with him my early teen. My father would puff on his cigar, while I was allowed a handful of Malabars brought at a backery along the way. Often, he would remember that he had brought my bubblegum while he was buying his box of Punch cigars from the tobacco counter in the cafe. “Your turn now ” he would say, and we would look around for the nearest bakery.For months, our walks invariably ended at Place du Colonel Fabien. Oscar Niemeyer had drawn up the plans for the headquarters of the French communist party , theb under construction.I can see my father  now, chewing on his cigarm standing motionless lostin admiration of the great structure.

I was reminded of my own dad who used smoke cigars on our walks when we were younger a smell that still evokes memoires to this day.

I said there was a turning point there is a few in this the first the decision to stop smoking for Fabrice leads the narrative to the nostalgia that for me is always a part in Laurain’s books. I remember packets brands I liked to smoke when I smoked. I was a fan of French brands like he has Benson and Hedges. I would often have Gaulouise Blondes a brand which seemed hip back in the day. It’s been years since I stopped, unlike Fabrice. I didn’t use hypnotherapy no I just managed with cold turkey and well a dislocated elbow that made rolling my own impossible just at the time I had stopped. The second turning point that leads to the latter part of the book is the attack at the station and the death of the attacker which sends the story in an unexpected direction which is another theme that runs through Laurain’s books. The nearest I could connect to this book was a section in the film Cats eyes a collection of Stephen King stories about a man that goes to a strange stop smoking agency that isn’t all it seems like this it has an unexpected turn when the main character starts smoking again.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melissa Beck
    Jun 12, 2018 @ 20:57:58

    I read The Red Notebook and enjoyed it. I will have to give this a try as well.

    Reply

  2. Jonathan
    Jun 13, 2018 @ 00:13:02

    I read French Rhapsody this yearcand really enjoyed so I hope to read some more by Laurain.

    Reply

  3. JacquiWine
    Jun 13, 2018 @ 06:33:45

    He’s an interesting author. I’ve only read The President’s Hat (which I enjoyed), so it’s nice to see what else he’s been up to.

    Reply

  4. Max Cairnduff
    Jun 13, 2018 @ 13:46:10

    98 French books Stu, phew! Will you pick something special for the 100th?

    I missed your piece about the PG Wodehouse prize. That sounds really rather depressing. If this had originally been in English do you think it would have been a decent candidate?

    Reply

  5. Trackback: That was the month that was June 2018 | Winstonsdad's Blog
  6. Trackback: Paris in July 2018 take two: Simenon & Laurain – Annabookbel

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