The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

March 5, 2017

March 5, 2010

NPR introduced some listeners to the writing of Patrick Garnier (July 4, 1949 to March 5,  2010):

...Pascal Garnier, [is] the late French writer whose brief, brisk, ruthlessly entertaining novels have been compared to everyone from Georges Simenon and Patricia Highsmith to Quentin Tarantino. His works are currently being rolled out in translation by Gallic Books — seven have been published so far ....

Garnier's books pointedly avoid the glamorous France we know from the movies, plopping us down in the kind of fallen world you get in American writers like Jim Thompson. His heroes inhabit a France of anonymous villages and sullen small towns with bad-food restaurants, tacky hotels, garden gnomes, DIY mega-stores, cheapo carnivals. Garnier conjures a world of struggling people who are trapped by their surroundings, by themselves, by fate. It's no accident that his just-released final novel is titled

....[Boxes] is quintessential Garnier. It's the story of Brice, a middle-aged illustrator of children's books who doesn't like children or the writer whose books he illustrates. But his troubles go far beyond that. Brice's beloved young journalist wife has disappeared in Egypt, and making matters worse, they've sold off their old flat in Paris and bought a house in a village. Brice is surrounded by boxes in his big, empty new house that feels, he thinks, "like being in an aquarium without the fish."
To keep himself busy, the shell-shocked Brice does some half-hearted remodeling, begins feeding a sly freeloader of a cat, and wanders the village having shallow conversations. Things only perk up when he meets Blanche, a single 39-year-old who lives alone in the house she once shared with her deceased father. Clad all in white, she's even more unmoored than Brice, and the two develop a weird chemistry. They dine together on pre-packaged soup, and make a day-trip to the city dump.

All of which may sound dull, but is precisely the opposite.
Boxes is a real page-turner. As niftily translated by Melanie Florence, Garnier is a surprising, often witty writer whose stories never get predictable. You always want to know what will happen next.....

His work is thick with noir sensibility, which means it's limited. His slim novels lack the rich sense of life's possibilities that you find in, say, Anna Karenina. Then again, he's not aspiring to be Tolstoy. Working in the stripped down tradition of the existential novel, he taps into profound feelings we all probably have from time to time — that we live in a meaningless, even cruel world, one not protected by a benevolent God, but mocked by absurd figures like the grinning stuffed animal that keeps turning up in Garnier's book
The Panda Theory [2008].

While I realize this may sound grim, Garnier makes bleakness pleasurable. It's fun to inhabit such a powerful mental atmosphere, however dark it may be, when it's created with originality and style. ....

Other titles of Garnier's include (the dates are the original publication date):

The A26(1999)
How’s the Pain? (2006)
Moon in a Dead Eye (2009)

And of course, discussed above,

This book, originally titled Cartons, was posthumously published in France, in 2012.

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