A quarter of the way through this book, I was ready to throw it across the room. I'm glad I didn't.
The charmless and self-obsessed David pursues VictoA quarter of the way through this book, I was ready to throw it across the room. I'm glad I didn't.
The charmless and self-obsessed David pursues Victoria through the streets of Paris for four hours, forgetting about his daughter's birthday party and losing her present along the way. Rather than call the police, Victoria agrees to meet him in London, where they indulge in one of the most tedious conversations ever recorded between two human beings. They discuss architecture and politics, rather than comment on the only remarkable aspect of dinner: the fact that either their table keeps changing size or that Victoria has extendible arms, such that at one moment they can barely touch their fingers across the table and the next Victoria is able to spoon-feed David without leaving her seat.
David talks like a written submission to the general assembly of the Socialist Workers' Party, while Victoria's conversation resembles a press release from the Institute of Directors. David also tells her about his plans for houses on rails, whereby residents will wake up to find their next-door neighbours' barbecue outside their patio door while their lawnmower is now in their other neighbour's garden along with the kids' bicycles and the koi carp. For all her business acumen, Victoria fails to laugh out loud at this idiotic scheme, sealing their relationship.
By the end of dinner, each of them is so smitten at having found someone who can listen to them without chewing their leg off that they repair to David's hotel, where they rut like accountants for four hours.
…and then the story picks up, becoming an existentialist political thriller in the old French style. David's thoroughly dislikeable, self-obsessed, whining neuroticism carries us through a tale of sexual obsession that destroys both characters. It still falls down on the dialogue, which reads like carefully prepared statements, and on the implausibility of Victoria falling so heavily for someone as pompous as David. The running theme of David's corruption by Victoria's capitalist morals underpins the story, but this is balanced by his strange sexual dysfunction: he can't reach orgasm. Victoria represents the alluring corruption of capitalism: David finally achieves release at the moment he completely succumbs morally, and in that moment he becomes unable to save Victoria.
'The Victoria System' represents the dance between opposites in French political life: David is a builder and Victoria a destroyer, and the antagonism between left and right is actually what keeps both alive. In that sense 'The Victoria System' is a political allegory in the best tradition of Sartre and Camus. ...more
It's my first brush with Simenon, so I'm expecting this 1938 roman dur to be something a bit noir and a bit psychological: somewhere between Albert CaIt's my first brush with Simenon, so I'm expecting this 1938 roman dur to be something a bit noir and a bit psychological: somewhere between Albert Camus and Raymond Chandler. I was close on the first call: The Book With A Title Too Long To Quote In Full does seem to foreshadow Camus' The Stranger, but it quickly becomes clear that this is a satire, not a thriller. Time to reorganise those Goodreads shelves again.
When his boss tells Kees Popinga that the company, and thus Kees himself, is on the brink of ruin, the mild-mannered, responsible family man decides to shrug off all socially imposed conventions and do whatever he pleases. Step one is to abandon his family, step on a train and seduce his former boss's mistress. She has other ideas and laughs so hard that he leaves her gagged on her hotel bed and debunks to Paris. Unfortunately, he gags her too tight and she dies, leading to a manhunt through the streets of the French capital.
Simeonon has great fun puncturing Popinga's confused vanity: having declared that he is free from social conventions and the opinions of others, he then sits down and writes lengthy, self-justifying screeds to the newspapers complaining about how he has been misrepresented and misunderstood. In his new, 'free' life he is even more a slave to society's opinion than he ever was before....more
An immature effort whose structure is all over the place, but where Fitzgerald's developing talent shone through. The semi-autobiographical tale of AmAn immature effort whose structure is all over the place, but where Fitzgerald's developing talent shone through. The semi-autobiographical tale of Amory Blaine prefigures that of Holden Caulfield, as the self-confessed narcissist plots his self-conscious way through school, Princeton, the war and the loves of adulthood. ...more
Billed as a 1940s existentialist classic, The Tunnel lives entirely in the mind of a convicted murderer who seeks to explain why he killed the woman hBilled as a 1940s existentialist classic, The Tunnel lives entirely in the mind of a convicted murderer who seeks to explain why he killed the woman he loved. He takes us into his nightmare psyche where murder is justified by a series of fantasies and suppositions.
Castel is well-named: he is an artist whose intellectual arrogance creates a castle in which his own psyche runs wild, uncompromised by the views of others. We follow him through the cold, hard passages of his mind as thoughts and fantasies feed on themselves and paint an increasingly perverted view of the world.
The imagery is subtle yet satisfying, and the story echoes Camus' The Outsider The StrangerThe Stranger, though Castel is very much an Insider too, trapped in his own mind. There is irony too: as an abstract painter he cannot deal with the abstract responses of Maria, demanding empirical truth and solid facts. Denied them, he creates them for himself. ...more