Jimmy's Reviews > Hygiene and the Assassin

Hygiene and the Assassin by Amélie Nothomb
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May 13, 11

bookshelves: female, france, novel, year-1990s
Read from April 05 to 07, 2011

The main character, Pretextat, being the impetus and pretext here, is the fattest strawberry of a strawman I’ve read in a while, thus stuffed competently like a bale of hay he rolls a hollow wind, counter to such rolls of fat written to his flesh, for he is air and err. Conveniently for this parable-parade, here come three journalists like wise men to a manger, filled with bad faith, and they too are strawmen, cowards, ignoramuses, careerists, what have you. Pick up your pitchforks, men, it’s straw against straw in this straw eat straw world! Better watch out with that lighter there, pal, you could burn this whole castle to the ground! But looky here comes the author herself disguised as a character named Nina, a smart young woman always ready with not only the most correct and witty answer, but one which makes the reader feel at ease knowing that such a pretext has been tackled. And what do we have here now? A completely unbelievable twist ending? You betcha.

That said, this was a very entertaining and fast (even addictive) read, which made me howl with laughter at times. I hope some of her other books are more substantive (and less transparently one-sided) than this, though.

I’d like to add that I really enjoyed the movie Fear and Trembling (based on a book by hers) which also had a similar sense of hyperbole and sparring dialogue. But it worked a lot better in that movie, so maybe this just isn’t her strongest book.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica like her?
I do.
have only read 'Tokyo Fiance' and seen the film, 'Fear and Trembling' (based on her novel). Both excellent.


Jimmy You are so well read, Jessica! No, I've never read her, but I just read about it on the 3 percent website here: http://www.rochester.edu/College/tran...

Sounds really good


message 3: by Jessica (last edited Feb 22, 2011 07:49AM) (new)

Jessica haha, thank you for saying that!
it's not really true, unless one is looking at foreign literature that's slightly off-kilter.

thanks for the website link too.

You MUST see that film. I love it, as has everyone I've shown it to. I actually bought the DVD, I liked it so much.


Jimmy It looks good, and it's on Netflix instant play! Woot! I'll watch it soon. Thanks.

Off kilter foreign lit is almost all I care about these days, so (to me) you are well read ;)


message 5: by Jessica (last edited Feb 22, 2011 07:55AM) (new)

Jessica the film is genuinely hysterical.

let me know after you watch it.


also: w/regard to being well-read, I have the advantage of being...old. More years of reading.


Jimmy You don't look that much older than me, from your profile pic. I have a baby-face. I'm actually 33.


message 7: by Jessica (new)

Jessica well, you can add 19 yrs to yr age and you have mine.
I could pass for...45. maybe.

I feel old in a good way (i.e. I've lived a long time, been through a lot) but am youthful in spirit.

or something like that.


Jimmy I just watched Fear and Trembling. It was awesome, I really loved the dynamic between the two main actors and the complicated relationship between them and their cultures. Really sad and funny film. Thanks for recommending!


message 9: by Jessica (new)

Jessica oh I am so glad!


and wow, was that quick.
am impressed.

complicated is the word, no? It doesn't shy away from presenting such a complicated relationship, power dynamic, and with so much humor, as you said--


Jimmy Well it was on Netflix Instant Watch, so I instantly-watched ;).

Yeah complicated. It was like they were playing a game with each other but each player had different rules, and there was no clear way of winning, and many ways of losing.


message 11: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls Nothomb is the bomb. This review does some pretty first-rate word-juggling too. Lovely.


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