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Zazie in the Metro

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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  6,072 ratings  ·  356 reviews
Impish, foul-mouthed Zazie arrives in Paris from the country to stay with her uncle Gabriel. All she really wants to do is ride the metro, but finding it shut because of a strike, Zazie looks for other means of amusement and is soon caught up in a comic adventure that becomes wilder and more manic by the minute.

In 1960 Queneau's cult classic was made into a hugely
...more
Paperback, Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics, 157 pages
Published October 25th 2001 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1959)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Glenn Russell
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing

“Being or nothing, that is the question. Ascending, descending, coming, going, a man does so much that in the end he disappears.”
― Raymond Queneau, Zazie in the Metro

A Raymond Queneau funny-bone tickler, a witty zazissle through Paris with Uncle Gabriel hosting visiting Zazie, the ever oh so very loveable little wisecracker who oh so very much wishes to ride the city’s Metro. And I was ever on the qt for how many of RQ’s 99 exercises in style turn up displaying their linguistic proboscis in
...more
Fionnuala
I’m going to hazard a crazy guess as to what this book is really about - besides the immediately recognizable themes which others have analyzed and canonized, themes such as the bizzareries Zazie encounters in the metropolis and the dazzling use of slang in the narrative.

But before I hazard my crazy guess, you’ll have to be patient with me while I do a little hypothesizing, while I attempt to puzzle it all out. Because I really am trying to get to the bottom of Queneau’s intention here. I’m
...more
Hugh
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Another one which I read because of a book group selection, this time in the Forgotten Classics... group. It is a book that is impossible to distance completely from the film it inspired, a wild playful comic adventure set in a Paris netherworld that clearly owes much to Joyce.

The language is full of invention, with hybrid words and all manner of allusions and wordplay - this must have made the translator's job very difficult and although Barbara Wright handled this task admirably and
...more
Duane
"Zazie" was written by French writer Raymond Queneau (1903-1976) and published in 1959. It's well known for it's use of language. A sort of slang known as colloquial or Neo-French. For example, the words "who is it" are written "whozit". The book is loaded with this type of language, later referred to in France as "Zazie Speak". But to the average reader it's a farce. The escapades of a pre-teen girl (Zazie) while visiting her uncle (unkoo) Gabriel in Paris for the weekend. Her "unkoo" is a ...more
Jonathan
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Look, it's quite simple really - if you don't love this book then there is something fundamentally wrong with you. My suggestion would either be medical help or, should you wish to save yourself and the world some time and effort, throwing yourself under the nearest Metro.
C.
Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: French speakers of all levels; the grammar is simple and you can guess the slang
Recommended to C. by: Manny et Michelle
I finally got around to finishing this, and it was a whole lot of fun.

1. For its linguistic ingenuity
a) With respect to its highly accurate (I assume) transcription of Parisian slang
- That brought back memories and a serious case of itchy feet
b) With respect to the wonderful wordplay in which he engaged
- I'm sure I missed most of this because my French isn't good enough

2. For its characters; they are, as it were, pretty great.
a) With respect to the main players, who were all beautifully
...more
Manny
Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so funny!!! A perfect antidote to the Hamsun I read immediately before. Though I must say that it seriously tested the limits of my colloquial French... I thought I wasn't too bad at French slang, but this book put me firmly in my place. My edition appeared to be intended for French high school students, and there were many useful footnotes explaining the less obvious pieces of argot, obscure references, and neologisms (Queneau loves making up words). He also has an endearing way of ...more
Geoff
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queneau
Q. Besides a lifespan that encompassed the first years of the 20th century through the late 1970’s, first-hand knowledge of the consequences of both world wars, a lifelong devotion to both wife and literature, a large body of work that spanned many genres, with a love of wordplay, humor, high diction, multilinguistic prose, a great attention to structure and experiments in form, and late recognition as one of the most important and influential writers in their respective language(s), what did ...more
MJ Nicholls
This short whimsical novel from the Parisian polymath (and co-founder of the Oulipo) isn’t representative of his phenomenal talent, but is a tittersome romp through a cinematic Paris of the 1950s with the acid-tongued Zazie the charming misfit at its core.

The humour was, for its time, subversive, with its foul-mouthed heroine, the consistent references to ‘homossesuality’ and the playfully childish words spelled phonetically throughout the text. There is no plot as such, minus Zazie’s persistent
...more
Vit Babenco
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Zazie's gone downtown and Zazie's gone all around. Zazie has turned the entire Paris upside down in no time.
"Are you a homo-sessuell? Do I look like a fruit?"
Recently I've watched the movie adaptation of the book. Of course the film is quite different from Raymond Queneau's novel but Louis Malle made a special stress on the weird visual scenes so he managed to make me see all the events in a new light
Oriana
Mar 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Ooooh this book is so good. It's fun, funny, and clever; and it's a super-quick read that's worth every second spent. Apparently in France this book is to Raymond Queneau as Lolita is to Nabokov, i.e. a seemingly simple, widely accessible, and wildly popular novel by an otherwise very intellectual, somewhat unapproachable genius. For whatever that's worth. In any case, this book is phenomenally good. A perfect Sunday-afternoon read.
Marc
Jan 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Read in French. Burlesque voyage through Paris, with the precocious girl Zazie and unlikely company. Continuous surprising turns and twists that break all conventions. Just marvellous read; at the same time a most endearing human document.
J.
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: city-of-light
A fizzy, surreal-adjacent rendition of what might in the parlance of the sixties been called a 'romp through the low-lights' of postwar Paris.

Tweenish, precocious pre-ingénue Zazie, and everyone in her trail/path engage in exactly the wrong sort of thing to be doing for 1959 France.

In 2014 this would be best on a beach with a cool Fernet Branca, an afternoon's read that doesn't last longer than the fizz. Some of the outrageousness-- lots of drinking, some cage-aux-folles crossdress cabaret,
...more
Nora Dillonovich
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love this book. I would give it six stars if I wasn't held to the five star rating system. Maybe even seven. The comical twists and turns, Zazie's adventures, her uncle Gabriel... so entertaining, so vivid. While I read, Herge like graphics continually popped up in my mind; which makes sense considering this was made into a running comic as well as a film. Zazie is something... and while the reader assumes she's an early teen, and prone to the surly brattiness that comes with the age, I think ...more
Doug
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Not sure how I made it to my ripe old age with never having read Queneau's best known work, nor viewing Malle's iconic film made from the same ... but both were a mite disappointing - although this IS one of the rare cases when the film MIGHT be slightly better than the book. At least, I enjoyed Malle's visuals more than Queneau's verse, which even in such a short work got repetitious and tedious - and often incomprehensible. More clever than actually witty or LOL funny, Queneau's verbal ...more
Lynne King
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: france-et-al
I've just upgraded my rating here.

I read this when I was at university and it was great fun but I'm not too sure that I would like to read Mr Queneau's other books. Zany Zazie!
Lubinka Dimitrova
Leaving aside the fact that this kind of literature is completely incomprehensible for people like me who like their books with a semblance of a plot and a logical dialogue, I cannot help to think that sadly my grasp of French is too basic for me to read the book in the original, which would have mightily improved the chance of me finding the book intriguing. This seems to be one of those books best enjoyed in their initial language by people who can appreciate the word-forging ingenuity of the ...more
Michelle
Sep 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Michelle by: Boo
Shelves: novels
Zazie, you are an adorable shit! I can't decide who I liked best...Zazie, Gabriel, Trouscaillon, or maybe the (gesture)parrot.

I want to say more about this slap-sticky novel, but after spending over seven hours on an airplane with a (gesture) seat that didn't recline, I think I need to step away from the computer for a little while.
Maggie
Zazie Lalochère is my hero, or perhaps antihero. Both? She's a preteen-teen (her age is never stated) from the French country who gets dropped off with her uncle, Gabriel, in Paris for two days so her mother can spend time with her new boyfriend. Immediately, it's obvious that Zazie is a character. When she finds out that the metro she so desperately wants to ride is closed due to a strike, she cries, "Oo the bastards!" But the moment she wins my heart comes a few pages later when she declares ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Aug 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
To truly appreciate Queneau’s wonderfully irreverent masterpiece, ‘Zazie in the Metro’, the reader must envelop themselves within the wonderful world of popular culture, must embrace the platitudinous dialogue, cardboard characters and hackneyed scenarios of pulp fiction; Queneau, like an alchemist, swallows the conventions of popular culture and regurgitates them in the form of Zazie; the impious and impish heroine of the novel, foul-mouthed and flippant, Zazie, like all of the characters ...more
Uday
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hands down the cutest, funniest li'l thing I have read till now.
Judy
It's hard to remember a time before I could go to Google and look up anything I wanted to know. In early 2007 I was planning a trip to Paris and though I'm sure I was using search engines by then, my searching skills were not up to creating a reading list of contemporary novels set in Paris. I had recently begun reading a blog called The Millions, one of the few literary blogs I still check daily. They have a feature called "Ask A Book Question," so I did!

The first recommendation I got in the
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
It is hard to read a book when you do not like the main character. At all.

And what if the book is written in some sort of odd Ulysses-ish manner? Not inviting.

Only two things kept me reading along: (1) the story is set in (ahhh!) Paris and (2) the book is on our list of 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.

So there. I finished it. I didn’t like it. But I finished it.
Andy
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: bitchy French chicks
Shelves: kool-imports
You gotta love a book about a bitchy, foul-mouthed 11-year old girl, especially one from the French countryside who comes to Paris to visit the subway, only the subways are on strike, so she opens up a can of whoopez-vous ass to every Parisian her little bumply acid tongue can spit out. "Zazie" isn't a great book but I think it's great someone wrote a book about a vile little girl. I'd rather bow to her than Miley Cyrus any day.
Roz  Milner
Sometimes, I’ll call a book or story cinematic. Normally, I mean it as a way to say the writing is particularly visual, like the words immediately lend themselves to being seen. For example, when I thin of Casey Plett’s story “Not Bleak” (see: A Safe Girl to Love), I can picture the wide-open fields of the Canadian praries and the small Mennonite community, not to mention Zeke withdrawing into herself as they cross the border.

But here’s something else that seems cinematic, in a different sense
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Rozzer
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, france, fiction, own
Spring of 1962. A junior in high school. Had seen and read the "What is 'Pataphysics" issue of the Evergreen Review the prior year. So when I saw that the movie Zazie, after the book by Queneau, was playing at the Paris near the Plaza I asked Shelley to be my date and see the movie. To which she agreed and we went. I loved it. The whole craziness of Zazie, her uncle and his household. This was (to me) very exciting stuff. But then I was already at the time nuts for almost anything French. Which ...more
Jim
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is not a word I use in book reviews, but with this one, it's de rigeur: The word is romp. Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau is the tale of how a little girl from the provinces spends 36 hours in the City of Paris. She is frustrated in her main goal, which was to ride the Metro (i.e., the subway); but, alas, the Metro is on strike during her visit.

Being a member of Oulipo, a loose organization of French writers who enjoy using linguistic constraints of various sorts. Zazie is, in this
...more
Jimmy
Oct 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
Talk, talk, that's all you can do!

Seems like a fitting description of this novel which is just an excuse for slapstick language comedy. Some of the witty language was amusing and clever, but overall I don't see the point of this romp. It got sillier and sillier, but not in a way that was funnier and funnier. The thing kinda read like a writing exercise, actually. And the characters are like flashy cartoons. I never thought slapstick was possible in book form, but here it is. I've never enjoyed
...more
Tosh
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of the great creations from the pen of Raymond Queneau, Zazie. The language in this book dazzles, and it is sort of a homage to slang as well as a tale of Paris and a little girl named 'Zazie' who if I knew in person I may want to strangle. But nevertheless what a fantastic piece of work.
g
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Considered Raymond Queneau’s first major work, Zazie is a novel populated by fast-talking odd characters and has a buzzing energy that alerts the reader to the zazic treats that she will find in the 200 odd pages to follow. While this novel was written before Queneau and François Le Lionnais formed Oulipo, it has the makings of an Oulipian work. Queneau plays with words, more often than not using colloquialisms and phonetic language, which lends an oddity to his characters as well as adding to ...more
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Novelist, poet, and critic Raymond Queneau, was born in Le Havre in 1903, and went to Paris when he was 17. For some time he joined André Breton's Surrealist group, but after only a brief stint he dissociated himself. Now, seeing Queneau's work in retrospect, it seems inevitable. The Surrealists tried to achieve a sort of pure expression from the unconscious, without mediation of the author's ...more
“Being or nothing, that is the question. Ascending, descending, coming, going, a man does so much that in the end he disappears.” 60 likes
“Why," he was saying, "why should one not tolerate this life, since so little suffices to deprive one of it? So little brings it into being, so little brightens it, so little blights it, so little bears it away. Otherwise, who would tolerate the blows of fate and the humiliations of a successful career, the swindling of grocers, the prices of butchers, the water of milkmen, the irritation of parents, the fury of teachers, the bawling of sergeant-majors, the turpitude of the beasts, the lamentations of the dead-beats, the silence of infinite space, the smell of cauliflower or the passivity of the wooden horses on a merry-g0-round, were it not for his knowledge that the bad and proliferative behaviour of certain minute cells (gesture) or the trajectory of a bullet traced by an involuntary, irresponsible, anonymous individual might unexpectedly come and cause all these cares to evaporate into the blue heavens.” 4 likes
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