Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jean-Philippe Toussaint's Monsieur


Belgian author Jean-Philippe Toussaint's 1986 novel about a young, Parisian businessman is a great and quick read. Dalkey Archive has just put out a reprint of it's English translation, so check it out. I've also reviewed the book here.

Check it.

2 comments:

BJK said...

looks good, judging by the cover, as i am wont to do (rebelling against clich├ęd advice). i'm almost through the ed park novel (personal days) which has been a nice, light read, and also addresses corporate culture. tab mentioned you got a piece from him for the l fiction issue? that's great!

N. Brown said...

Yeah, it's shaping up to be a good issue. I'll keep ya posted. This was a really cool little novel (very slim, like 95 pages, maybe). Funny first-person that doesn't do the whole, weird and very "now" thing of presenting a character who is "normal" (content-ish, happy enough, healthy enough, etc) in terms of his/her social interactions but who has some kind of traumatic interior life that represents the "truth" of the character. I feel like that's how the narrators in the Miranda July book come off in some ways -- they are perhaps square pegs socially, but they're, like, trapezoidal pegs on the inside. It's a contrast that I think has become kind of accepted because, well, it's both easy to empathize with (who hasn't felt misunderstood or phony?), but this novel was interesting precisely because the interiority was something simpler, perhaps, than being "troubled" or "misunderstood." This, simply put, is about a guy who is recognizable to the reader as a type, but who doesn't know himself in the least. I suppose that's a form of tortured interiority (maybe?), but it's subtle -- and it's damned entertaining to watch him as the story pushes forward.