Friday, 7 May 2010
The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald is stunning. When confronted with the unspeakable, speak the truth, give voice to the voiceless.
The Fate Of The Malous by Georges Simenon made me respect a coming-of-age novel for the first time since I read Graham Joyce's The Tooth Fairy. A self-made businessman named Eugene Malou runs into debts - not for the first time. The difference is, he kills himself this time, in a ghastly and very public suicide. As his family members absorb themselves in finding ways to carry on with minimum inconvenience after this tragedy, only Malou's youungest son, Alain, thinks about the deceased, becoming obsessed with findnig out who his father really was and who he himself should become. Told in Simenon's stark yet meticulous style, a slim but weighty novel.
I Served The King Of England by Bohumil Hrabal was a shot of Slavic antic sprits after the restraint of Sebald and Simenon. A rollicking ride through some of the darkest years of Czech history, seen through the eyes of a pint-sized waiter. Reading Hrabal is like listening to a skilled, irrepressible raconteur. This novel is packed with oddball characters, odder anecdotes and a wealth of circumstantial detail that somehow coheres into a whole. A particular delight can be found in Hrabal's ever so mundane yet apropos metaphors - describing the wave of a woman's hair in a swimming pool as being like the surface of a corrugated roof and so on.
Posted by JP at 08:25