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Mammalsby Pierre Merot
Synopses & Reviews
"Mrot, in his first English translation, is romantic and dark, with a weakness for the well-turned paradox ('Psychoanalysis teaches you one vital lesson: it teaches you that seeing a psychoanalyst is pointless...') and the surrealistic metaphor (coming into Poland in the winter, the protagonist sees 'snow with white vodka claws'). Mrot's novel centers on an overeducated, underemployed 40-something man known as 'the uncle,' for his role as the black sheep of a model family. The story line strings together the uncle's life in episodes involving alcoholism (eight pints per evening and counting), marriage (unsuccessful), cohabitation (with a woman reminiscent of his childhood fantasy, Cruella de Ville), odd jobs (in various contemptable venues, including 'Walt Disney College'), and the sadness of ending up at 40 with a small apartment and a large belly. While the protagonist is a man, Mrot's novel invokes the most bitter of chick lit, capturing the pessimism characteristic of the unlucky-in-love working-gal heroine: 'The more mediocre the times, the greater the disappointment.' Though it takes some missteps, Mrot's American debut should please casual fiction readers and Francophiles alike. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
One of the most internationally noteworthy titles from Europe in recent years, Mammals is a witty anatomization of modern life. Caustic, comic, and unflinchingly honest, Mammals is a cruel but beautiful tale of love, solitude, alcoholism, family, and unemployment. This fictional memoir of a glorious loser recounts the life of the Uncle, an unhappy Parisian bachelor whose only true loves were a Polish girl and a divorcee. He is a drunk; he is sarcastic; he works and fails desultorily in several fields until he winds up surrounded by neurotic women, a teacher in a secondary school. He tries out therapist after therapist and can't figure out who is the butt of the joke. He has nephews and this makes him nervous. In fact, almost everything about family life makes him nervous — especially now that he's living at home again. He coins proverbs for living with lowered expectations and attempts a bestiary of his pathological parents, the mammals of the title.
Riding its handbasket merrily to hell, veering now and then toward overwhelming lyricism, Mammals pieces together the portrait of modern society's Everyman. It establishes Pierre Merot as an extraordinary and delightful voice of international stature.
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