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The Pigeon by Patrick Süskind
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M_50x66
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Nov 07, 10


This is a short work, 77 pages long, and using largish type. It is by the author of the brilliant novel 'Perfume', and just as in that novel the author allows the reader to enter almost seamlessly and painlessly into the mind of an obsessive psychotic murderer, here the author eases us into the mind of a psychologically damaged individual. In both cases, we can say that we as readers have experienced what it must be like to be the central character. The origin of the psychological damage is not specifically stated, but it occurs in France during the Second World War, and since first the mother, then the father 'disappear', and the children are sent south so that they could be better hidden until the end of the war, we can surmise that Jonathan Noel is either of Jewish background, or that the family was one which for some other reason might have been threatened by the situation in France in 1942.

Jonathan is soon alone, follows the orders of others, who ultimately disabuse him, and finally he retreats into his closed-off world, alone, isolated, and apparently basically 'happy' in his 30-year job as a bank security guard. It takes only a very simple ordinary incident, however, to have this protected, sheltered world shattered almost to the point of destruction.

I'm not sure how others might respond to this obsessive, claustrophobic world, but I think Süskind's ability to make us enter this highly protected mind is skilfully done. I feel the reader is made to understand something about the devastating effects of trauma, and to appreciate just how delicate the fabric of such damaged souls is. It is both moving and frightening at the same time, so quintessentially disturbing.
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