Larissa's Reviews > The Waitress Was New

The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre
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's review
Jun 18, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: in-translation, 2008, french, read-by-recommendation, archipelago
Read in December, 2008

I came to The Waitress Was New through the website Three Percent's "Best Translated Book of 2008" longlist (here, if you're interested). Narrated by Pierre, a fifty-six year old barman in a cafe on the outskirts of Paris, Waitress provides a quick and quiet glimpse into the life of a man who has spent his life observing others and catering to their whims, but is only just starting to develop the same acute awareness of himself.

Pierre is profoundly alone—a state which only occasionally seems to concern him. He has drinks once in awhile with a barman friend from his neighborhood, waters his boss' plants when he's out of town, grocery shops for his upstairs neighbor, and decides what to read based on the selections of a regular customer. He is a consummate listener, but--as is the case with many such professional confidants—has almost no idea how to respond on the rare occasion that someone actually asks his own opinion.

There are a few images towards the end of the novella that were so beautiful that I kept reading as I got off the subway and walked to my office. Pierre's boss unexpectedly closes the cafe for a week, but Pierre, left at loose ends, continues to go into work every morning, mopping down the bar top and watching as people go in and out of the train station across the street. The image of an aging barman—locked in an empty cafe and watching passersby—seems to me the most poetic rendering of solitude, spectatorship, and quotidian ritual that fiction has produced in some time.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Cristianardelean Ardelean Great review, thank you!

Larissa Cristianardelean wrote: "Great review, thank you!"

Thanks very much! I hadn't thought of this review in awhile and rereading it now made me want to see if there is any more of Fabre's work in translation.

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