Pascal Garnier’s thin novellas won’t take up much of your precious time, but they’re the perfect stories to read as light snacks between heavier novels.
Arch and lyrical, these mischievous little books are about people who spend so long living in the past that they can’t bear to live in the present.
Moon In A Dead Eye tells the tale of five old people who pitch up at a new retirement village. The only residents of the bland and remote Les Conviviales, their isolation results in increasingly paranoid and neurotic behavior. Secrets emerge and past failures spin to the surface, and they all go a bit bonkers. A warning to anyone with too much time on their hands, it’s a funny and outlandish story.
The Panda Theory has a more familiar narrative. Gabriel drifts into a small town and strikes up a number of friendships with a sad group of people. His smile and friendly gestures are reflected in the blank gaze of the stuffed toy panda he wins at a local funfair. But Gabriel is a man irreparably damaged by a catastrophic event from his past.
Garnier’s tales have been translated into English posthumously. He died in 2010. In France, he was the author of sixty books or so. They’re published as noir over here, but they have a macabre edge to them, a devilish suspicion of change. Anyone who’s been devouring Channel Four’s excellent The Returned will enjoy his out-of-whack sense of location.
Gallic Books has also published two more of his stories, The A26 and How’s The Pain? They’ll be best enjoyed, perhaps, over a strong coffee and an aperitif in the sunshine.
While we’re on the subject of French authors, many congratulations go to our old friend Pierre Lemaitre, whose Alex was the joint winner of the CWA International Award with Fred Vargas’s The Ghost Riders of Ordebec.
You can find out more about the first batch of Dagger Award winners here.