Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Scapegoat

by Daniel Pennac. A rare French book (in translation by the fantastic Ian Monk, who translated Georges Perecs' novel without the letter E into English) in that it is not miserable.

Haven't read many, but most of the French books I've read are melancholy, downbeat, bleak, dismal, gloomy, mournful, hopeless, dispiriting, discouraging, disheartening. Depressing, in other words. It's not real literature, they seem to think, unless you want to slit your wrists afterwards.

Par example... j'accuse Françoise Sagan, Bonjour Tristesse (see?); Jean Paul Sartre, Nausea; Albert Camus, The Stranger; Alain Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes; Flaubert, Madame Bovary; Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses; Antoine de Saint Exupery, The Little Prince; ÉmileZola, Thérèse Raquin and Nana... even Colette, who starts off quite jolly and saucy with the Claudine novels, gets all melancholy and unneccessary as she gets older.

Thanks be for Goscinny and Uderzo (Asterix books that make you laugh) and Anaïs Nin (for shameless filth.)

Oh, and Daniel Pennac, who writes fast, funny, ridiculous crime novels set in Belleville. He won't put up with any melancholy nonsense.


  1. what a spankingly good idea for a proj. when you've discarded something lowbrow enough for me to have read it, i'll join in! ;)

  2. And, of course, Les Miserables.
    Not familiar with Daniel Pennac. Can he be ranked with Georges Simenon?

  3. Ian, of course! Sums it up, really. I haven't read Georges Simonon, will do forthwith.

  4. Have you given Houellebecq a stab? Miserable too but with an entertaining disdain and hatred for humanity.

  5. Houellebecq - mais non, pas mon tasse de thé du tout!