Low Heights by Pascal Garnier and Melanie Florence (translator)
|Low Heights by Pascal Garnier and Melanie Florence (translator)|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Another classy and clever little drama from one of the most likeably dark storytellers out there.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: August 2017|
|Publisher: Gallic Books|
Edouard is an exemplary example of a crotchety old man – changing his mind, and blaming anything and everything – even that decision – on other people. He's physically fine, apart from one hand disabled by a stroke, but mentally, what with forgetting his past, assuming too many days are Sundays when they're not and buying too many inappropriate things, he needs a nurse – Therese, who has formed an unlikely and almost unwanted couple with him. For Edouard, the memory of his wife who died ten years ago is still a little too strong. But this unusual 'family' is about to be upset by an unexpected arrival, who will stir the emotions and life of their remote house no end…
This is Garnier personified. Take real people (generally five of them), and put them in a real yet isolated place due to a real and understandable reason, and just wait for the surreal, the unexpected and yet still the understandable, if perhaps unreasonable, to happen. It would be a pat little exercise perhaps if the reads weren't so distinctive, and generally so enjoyable. Make no mistake, this was a welcome book for me to receive, having read almost all, if not more, of the author's translated works.
So this is one more of his modern noirs – and this, written fairly late in his life in 2003, was more modern than some. Either way it's superior stuff throughout. A lesser writer would layer on the sympathy with Therese, what with her being slightly plump and plain, a virginal woman at a loss away from the kitchen and her other tasks. Other people would make this a fine book, with the drive and intelligence it bears, but perhaps fail to get in the bigger themes as firmly and easily as they are here – this really manages to touch on the topic of parenthood, familial inheritance and so on.
In the end it might have had more of a distinctive setting and more of an unusual approach – although I never come to Garnier for a sterling and different style, as he's too much the straight and simple storyteller. Part of the point here is that these are normal people in a most normal situation – nothing is rarefied until the weird events start unfolding. He has in the past heightened things, made the location more unique, and so on, but perhaps this closeness to the real means this book is one of the better places with which to start reading this consummate author. I would love the chance to discover him all over again, for he's really most entertaining.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Frederic Dard is an equivalent with an equally large back-catalogue that's coming our way all too slowly. His Crush is great fun.
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