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3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  138 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Meet Monsieur, your hero, a successful young executive in Paris whose
daily life you will follow in precise detail. He is nothing if not
unremarkable. Meet his secretary, his nieces, his fiancée and her
parents, his neighbor whose scientific reports Monsieur unwittingly
types out. What will happen? This and that. Monsieur will attend a
party. He will babysit. But most of all, M
Paperback, 108 pages
Published June 17th 2008 by Dalkey Archive Pr (first published 1984)
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The eponymous Monsieur wends his way down the Lazy River of life: unencumbered by Qualities, unconsummated by ambition, but concocted of Common and convivial of trite.

Toussaint glorifies a life most banal, a man so unassuming he isn’t assigned a name, a man who perambulates the torrents of the quotidian by bending ‘with the remover to remove’. Have I come across this trope before? A Nonesuch as Monsieur? An ode to the Sublime of Ordinary? No, no, and no: and thus, 5 stars for the novelty value.

A quiet little book, Monsieur is a series of vignettes that describes a brief time in the life of an introverted, quiet man. Monsieur is a man of set habits, mild speech, and socially awkward worries. Over the course of the story, several things occur that Monsieur seems to passively agree to let happen to him, with intermittently amusing results. Topics as diverse as the scientific properties of crystals, a lycee in Chartres before the war, physics and time and the soothing capacity of stars ar ...more
There's something strange going on in Toussaint. I haven't quite put my finger on it yet, but I love it. Is it the accumulative effect of reading three of his books now, or is it this particular book — I find myself not just a happy reader anymore; I've become infected by Toussaint's peculiar turn of mind, and I need to get a little closer to understanding the main crisis at work in his stories. (Is there a main crisis?) My theory is that this book is a reaction to the mundane rituals and langua ...more
Very French. Cold and impersonal for most of the book, but interesting it it's strangely disinterested manner of delving deeply into the life of a person only known in the book as Monsieur. Like Beckett in someways, but with science thrown in, which I think is supposed to be important, but I just didn't spend enough time thinking about the ramifications of quantum theory on the narrative structure of the book. My loss I'm sure.
Toussaint's unassuming hero--known only as Monsieur--embodies what Taoism terms the "uncarved block." Apparently simple-minded and utterly passive, he nevertheless keeps his head above water without effort and comes out of even the worst situations displaying a mystifying sense of contentment. He's a little bit Winnie-the-Pooh, a little bit silent film comedian, and all enigma.
MJ Nicholls
A charming story evoking The Stranger, with more whimsy and less existential meat.
Jun 02, 2009 Jim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Euro fic fans, people who don't like to laugh in public, cheese eaters

(This review originally appeared on the literay weblog The Elegant Variation on June 16, 2008 aka Bloomsday, which is why it repeatedly references James Joyce's Ulysses.)

Although June 16 is called Bloomsday after the chief protagonist of James Joyce’s modernist masterpiece, you could be forgiven for forgetting about poor old Leopold.

After all, Ulysses’ first hundred pages or so are dominated by Stephen Dedalus, a stretch so stylistically baroque many readers skip ahead to Molly Bloom’s saucy mon
Peter Zuppardo
Afuckingmazing. "At the office, when things weren't busy, Monsieur went downstairs to the cafeteria and read the paper. Across from him in the glass entrance hall, here and there, small flower pots boasted benjamina or papyrus, and two or three receptionists, quite another matter, talked on the telephone behind the circular counter. Often, before going back up to his office, Monsieur, going round the counter, good afternoon ladies, stood for a while in front of the aquarium and watched the fish ...more
I read the Chinese version.
Matthew Thompson
The distinctly uneventful narrative of a nameless protagonist's day-to-day-to-day routine. Monsieur, who stumbles into situation after situation without control or ill-will is a kind of silent comedian here as he somersaults through the storyline, each tumble more absurd than the last. Major plot lines include a bruised arm, some serious ping-pong playing, and inadvertently co-authoring an unfinished book on mineralogy. For fans of Jim Jarmusch, Talking Heads lyrics and Jacques Tati's Mr. Hulot
A dead-pan comedy about an apparently affectless man, Monsieur, a cipher who seemingly is buffeted along the course of his life, often passively giving in to demands placed upon him by strangers, family members, and his employer. But Monsieur is intelligent, if befuddled by the need to speak and act. His work has been apparently compared to that of Beckett and Jarmusch, and rightfully so: all is absurdity. And yet, for Monsieur, in the end, once can still find melancholy joy.
Jeff Bursey
For my review of this and Camera, as well as The Customer is Always Wrong (by someone else), go here:
Objectively, it is well written and concise.

But I guess I just didn't like that style and while I like concise---I felt that it was maybe too concise for me to get it.
Another strange little book, like a snapshot into a small world of restraint and deliberate thought, the story of a man and of his evasive activities. In French.
An unassuming fellow known only as Monsieur does nothing particularly remarkable, but Toussaint is able to make this anti-hero and fascinating and witty protagonist.
Gave up. What passes for Taoist acceptance is called boredom in my house. Dull. Not recommended. Read Raymond Carver instead.
Very funny, especially if you don’t try to hard to find meaning in everything you read.
day to day observations of a regular guy. hmmmm...
Dave Proff
Loved it. I was caught up in the language.
quaint, secretly (touching?) quirky
an elegant souffle.
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Jean-Philippe Toussaint (born 29 November, 1957, Brussels) is a Belgian prose writer and filmmaker. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages and he has had his photographs displayed in Brussels and Japan. Toussaint won the Prix Médicis in 2005 for his novel Fuir. The 2006 book La mélancolie de Zidane (Paris: Minuit, 2006) is a lyrical essay on the headbutt administered by the ...more
More about Jean-Philippe Toussaint...
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