Jim's Reviews > The Man Who Watched Trains Go By

The Man Who Watched Trains Go By by Georges Simenon
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's review
Jun 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012

Over the last few years, I’ve been going through Georges Simenon’s “hard novels” published by the New York Review of Books. They’re generally quick, gritty reads that are slightly ahead of their time.

If Simenon is the Belgian equivalent of Jim Thompson, then The Man Who Watched Trains Go By would be his The Killer Inside Me. Kees Popinga, a respectable Dutch businessman, embarks on an ill-considered crime spree. Like Thompson, Simenon’s reputation casts a long shadow over the work. The translator, Luc Sante, appears more impressed with Simenon’s legendary productivity than the book itself.

There are good reasons for that. While the stream of consciousness suits the story, the chapters are uneven and Kees Popinga’s exclamatory statements wear thin: He’s not crazy! He’s truly free! Ultimately, Simenon’s over-the-top psychological portrait of a man on the run in Paris between the wars feels a bit soft-boiled.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
June 3, 2012 – Shelved
September 7, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012

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