The Eskimo solution by Pascal Garnier

Eskimosolution_weblarge

The Eskimo Solution by Pascal Garnier

French Noir fiction

Original title – La Solution Esquimau

Translators – Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken

Source – review copy

I can’t believe that four years have flown since I first came across Pascal Garnier , when Gallic books sent me the first of thew late writers books and actually in the line of his publish” romans “(novels )the first .)I have reviewed four of his books before here is a link to the reviews. I have found his books funny and dark at the same time he had a very black humour that is all of his own. It safe to say every time a book o his drops through the letter box it is a treat.

Louis’s mother took all her medication for the week in one go on Monday morning so that she could be sure she wouldn’t forget. That was he best day of the week . She laughed at anything and nothing,spent an hour staring at the pattern on her waxed tablecloth, moved her knick-knacks about and invariably ended up embarking on a complicated recipe for which she only possessed a fraction of the ingredients. At eight O’clock, she collapsed in a heap for at least twelve hours .

Now this is a strange story that is set in Normandy a writer has taken a small cottage after an advance from his publisher he has taken to finish a novel he is writing. Now the novel is narrated by a man called Louis, and louis has a job and that is riding the world of Older people first he starts of with his own family member his mother and then spreads his wings and starts to help his friends with their relatives. with their older family members . Now the serial Killer Louis has been written in turn by the writer Louis and people around the writer louis of a certain age are also dying . Has his writing seep into the world or is he really Louis and a killer not a writer .

Ever day at the same time I go up to my study, read over these pages and ask myself,” What’s the point of writing a story I already know off by heart? “I’ve explained it to so many people that the tiresome formality of putting down on paper is about as exciting to me as opening the TV guide to discover The longest day  showing on every channel. In an ideal world I’d sell the story as it is, in its raw state, to someone who had some enthusiasm for writing it.Or didn’t but would write it all the same.

Louis with his story he knows so well maybe to well as it seeps into his world as he works on it himself .

This is one of the books that make you think as the lines between the real and written world blur for one man. I was reminded of the film stranger than fiction where Will Ferrel is a character in a book but doesn’t know it so is louis a character or the writer or one the same ?This as the novel moves on is harder to tell as the lines between them blur . What is being talked about and done by Louis  is  Seincide(killing the elderly )  as it is called is also what the title refers to this is where the Inuit used to place old people on the ice to float away and die .Many cultures have myths or old customs around killing the old and of course there is a number of books and films about it as well like Logan’s run where 30 is the oldest people can be or the novel wanting seed by Anthony Burgess which tackles over population and has various solution.,I feel this maybe was a writer playing with an Idea of real and written life blurring . He maybe could fleshed it out some more but, it is the usual length of his books which makes me wonder did he writer for a certain reader as I find his books can be read in an evening and keep ypou think all the next day and more in many cases. Another in the late writers Cannon and on his french wiki page it seems there is a number of other books still to come out .

French rhapsody by Antoine Laurain

French Rhapsody large

French Rhapsody by Antoine Laurain

French fiction

Original title – Rhapsodie française,

Translator – Jane Atiken and Emily Boyce

Source – review copy

Well two french novels in a week and the second here is the third book by Antoine Laurain I have reviewed I enjoyed the two earlier books the presidents hat and red notebook  Both of which have a similar nostalgic feel to this book. His earlier books have won two prizes . this is his third to be translated to english.

Paris 12 September 1983

Dear Holograms

We listened with great interest to the five track demo you sent us at the beginning of the summer. Your work is precise and very professional, and although it needs quite a bit of work , you already have a sound that is distinctive. The track we were most impressed by was “Such stuff dreams are mad on ” You have managed to blend new wave and old wave whilst adding you own rock sound.

Please get in touch with us so that we can organise a meeting

Best wishes

The letter Alain got telling him of Polydor like their demo now to find the other band member , I live the song title just out of the 80’s

The book has a clever framing device like his two earlier books a starting point to the past in a way in this case it is a letter that had been deleivered thirty years earlier, but had fallen behind something in the letter box and wasn’t discovered to the house had repairs done the letter was to ALain Massoulier and was a reply from the record label Polydor saying that they loved the demo from  the band he was in The holograms and now this is 30 years later and the various members of the band have long since lost contact so Alain goes on a journey to reunite the band and bring them to polydor 30 years late for their one chance .But where have the Band gone Alain is now a settled but maybe not happy GP others he decide to do the 21st century thing and google them , he has vague ideas but what are they the other three guys and one woman well one is one the verge of being the biggest french leader another was an artist that last big piece was a 25ft brain (that rein me of Jeff Koons for some reason ) , another was in the movies and the last in the rising voice of the far right french . This is a story of paths we take in life how could five people in a group end up so far apart and what would have happened if the letter had arrived well that is a twist in the story waiting 30 years to be told .

Who is JBM ? asked the front page of Le Figaro above a photo of the businessman. He had grey hair now, almost white at the temples, but still the same melancholy expression, the same cat-like smile. His hands were clasped in front of him and you could see the domed blue cufflinks . This photo must have been taken at conference .He looked as if he were listening attentively to something or someone

JBM a fellow Band member but has taken a very different path to his old band mate .

Laurain has a real eye for capturing the past this time with the music and memories and stoking the fires in ones own mind I was on the edge of a band , well hung out with them and suggest a few ideas after this book I was left wondering what had happen to them. Laurain captures that band time but also he has shown how one point can lead to so many different points how five people’s lives can take such drastic paths into art, politics , movies sort of , being a face in the crowd and being the cheerleader of a baying crowd in a way each could have been the other but they weren’t and it shows how fracture modern France can be at times. Another gem from a wry fun writer that in this one will make you think what if I had that letter or piece of Take hart or poem published

Have you read any of his book ?

Too close to the edge by Pascal Garnier

 

Too close to the edge by Pascal Garnier

French noir fiction

Original title – Trop près du bord

Translator – Emily Boyce

Source – review copy

Its been a while since I reviewed a Pascal Garnier  I have reviewed three of his earlier books  , I have been lucky to been sent all his books by Gallic books and have read most of them he is always a joy to read. But a new year and a new cover on the series and this latest from the French Noir writer caught me from the blurb as one I would like. It is more than 6 years since he died, he wrote over sixty books it wasn’t til 2000 when the French publisher Zulma decide to collect his works under one publisher he had written books for various publishers over the years , this was published in 1999 a number of years before his death in 2010.

She was one fo those people who had always been and would remain attractive in a wholesome, obvious sort of way. She never needed to give nature a helping hand. Just a touch of lipstick now and then when she and Charles went out of an evening, purely for the raspberry-flavoured kisses. Even the few wrinkles gathered around her eyes brought a new charm to her face. It was as though time had polished her with beeswax. Only Charles’ passing had slightly dulled the sparkle in her eyes, and placed her smile in permanent parentheses.

eliette one those french woman who just look wonderful no matter what even at her age !

This is the story of one old woman, recently widowed Eliette , who lost her husband just before they where due to retire to their mountain home which they had spent many years doing up. Much to the dismay of her kids Eliette decides to carry on with her plans and she ends up in this huge house in the middle of nowhere. Her means of getting about is a small Aixam car (on a small aside I have seen these cars over the years and never knew they were french made ) which takes her on her weekly trip to the town to stock up , it is on one such trip that her vehicle breaks down just as she chanced on some new clothes to make herself feel younger and she meets the a stranger also stuck as his car has broken he helps her she then gives him a lift . Next day the son of a neighbour has been Killed in a bad hit and run, is it murder how did it could this good Samaritan be a killer ?

He appeared to be in his forties, not very tall, not especially thick-set, with a baby face. His shoes and trouser bottoms were covered in mud. As he set to work on the wheel, the rain began to drop like a portcullis. Eliette could not tear her eyes from his muscular back, which showed through his sodden shirt . He was finished in under ten minutes.

Her Hero or is he a kiler he helps her change the wheel on her car the next day a neighbours son is dead are the two connected ?

This is a classic piece of noir a stranger appears next day some one is dead. But it is also a look at growing old eliette is a woman on the edge of being old see is trying to keep young hence the rebelling and living by herself so when a charming young man helps her by the side of the road her heart flutters a beat. I do often wonder if Tales of the unexpected was popular in France at the time it was first shown in the UK as I often feel Garnier has a touch of that series in his writing A story that starts of about an oldish woman retiring into the middle of nowhere then the car breaks down is like a classic framing device that was often used in the Tales series of programmes. If you want a great piece of modern Noir Garnier is a must read I feel his books mix both the darkest parts of the human world and comic moments so well.

Have you read Pascal Garnier ?

 

Two new arrivals a Czech classic and French Noir

I’ve had a bad week really , some really bad news .So a couple of books arriving has brightened a morning up to what is a sad time at Winston’s tower .

innocence by Heda Margolius Kovaly

First is a Czech crime novel the only novel from a writer better known for her non fiction work the biography  Under a cruel star .Heda Margolius Kovály was a Czech writer and translator , her book about the war and what followed from being a Jew in the Czechoslovakia . she lived in exile from the late 1950’s onwards ,where she worked as a translator translated many books from English to Czech including Raymond Chandler . I mention Chandler as John Banville has compared this book to his work .Set in Prague it follows the investigation into a murder at a cinema and the women that work as ushers in it .This is also translated by Alex Zucker .

boxes by Pascal Garnier

The second arrival today was Boxes the latest from Gallic books noir series , that has been putting out the novels of the Late Pascal Garnier .This one follows Brice and Emma a couple that have just moved into a new house . Their neighbour Blanche lives next to the grave yard and she says Brice looks like her Late father .

What books have you received recently ?

The red notebook by Antoine Laurain

The red notebook by Antoine Laurain

Original title – La femme au carnet rouge

Translators – Emily Boyce and jane Aitken

Source – Review copy

She drove her mother’s car, ’twas a 2cv
I was most impressed by her casual dress
I was most impressed
Inside her rented room colored deepest blue
I suppose we found some kind of happiness
To fill the emptiness
We were simply wasting precious time
Hiding from the cruelest summer sky
She took her mother’s car to get away from me
Heaven knows that i, I can sympathize
Oh I can sympathize
For we were never close if the truth were told
All we ever shared was a taste in clothes
Oh we were never close

I choose another romantic Lloyd Cole an early song 2CV  obviously a slight link in the title  to france as well .

 

Well another visit to france today .This is the second book by Antoine Laurain , I have reviewed here on the blog .The first The presidents hat was a real hit with me when I read it . Antoine Laurain has written five books and collects antiques .His books have translated into many  european  languages . There is a short questionaire with him on the Gallic books blog .

Laurant had never opened a woman’s handbag . He hadn’t opened his mother’s when he was a child and he hadn’t opened claire’s either . Occasionally he had been told , ” Take the keys from my bag ” or “There’s a pack of tissues in my bag ; you can take those . He had not touched a handbag without explict prior authorisation , more like a command that only vaild for a very limited time .

How this made me smile , I think most of us men have similar a expereience .

So The red notebook is similar in  premise to the presidents hat . Again the story starts with a lost item . This time it is a hand bag , unlike presidents hat the finder of this bag doesn’t know who the bag belongs too . The bag is in the hands of laurent Letellier a bookseller , when he finds  the bag  outside his shop .Having been lost when it’s owner was attacked in that spot  .He looks through the bags contents and comes across the red notebook and a few other items .One of these items is a signed novel by Patrick Modiano   . But none of these give a clue to the bags owner . So Laurent reads the notebook and through its content is drawn to its lady owner . what follows is a journey through the notebook and it;s notes .Along the way laurent meets the recent French Nobel winning writer Patrick Modiano . Can this notebook lead laurent to this women he has fallen for without even meeting . The charm of this story is a shy is guy trying to discover this women that to him seems very interesting .

He paused . Laurent stared at him . Only Patrick Modiano could tell you he didn’t remember the woman he had met in the street then immediately go on to give you a description that would have delighted any police force in the country .”Thank you , ” said Laurent in a low voice .

Had pick a line with Modiano in as it shows his respect in France that Laurain include him in this book

I was charmed again by this writers fiction .It’s not very lit , but has the same charm as you find in say the french films by Tati . What we see is one mans journey through Paris to find one woman . Along the way Laurain pays homage in a way to Modiano  both by putting him in the book as a character .But also the style of the book is in a small way  an homage to Modiano a detective novel without being a detective novel .This book is a perfect holiday book or train journey book . I love a book that leaves me with a smile after I have put it down . Sometimes we all need something that is both a page turner and fun to read . I really can’t wait too Gallic hopefully publishes the next book by him .

 

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