The Company of Ghosts
Translated by Christopher Woodall
When a process-server arrives at a housing project on the edge of Paris to draw up a routine inventory of goods in view of seizure, the reception he receives from distrainees Rose Mélie and her teenage daughter Louisiane is more than he has bargained for.
Rose, forever unhinged by the trauma of a childhood spent under Nazi occupation, mistakes him for a collaborationist thug and assails him with her alternately tragic and hilarious memories of Vichy France. Louisiane, for her part, treats the process-server to an exaggerated display of courtesy laced with precocious classical erudition and a stream of late-pubescent revelations.
In a narrative that lurches giddily between 1942 and 1997, Lydie Salvayre picks at the sores of recent French history, impertinently exposing continuities of authoritarianism. In Some Useful Advice for Apprentice Process-Servers—a short piece also included in this book—the author grants the process-server a right of reply, which he uses to chilling effect.
Nb of pages 180 p.
Publication Date 2006
Nb of pages 180
Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5 in.
List Price $12.95
And so there I was, gushing politely at the process-server, Yes Mr Process-Server, No Mr Process-Server, calculating that however unnatural it felt this was the way to make a good impression and maybe persuade him to cancel or at least to moderate his orders, when I saw the bedroom door fly open and my mother appear in her dirty nightdress, girdled at the waist by the hideous fanny pack that she never let out of her sight, just in case, she said, we were to be led manu militari to an internment camp and, as I was saying, I saw her appear there and scream at the process-server, Is it Darnand who’s sent you?
"The Company of Ghosts is, in turn, horrific and hilarious, satire for once done completely differently. It's an often uncomfortable book -- Rose Mélie is an unpleasant and unpredictable character, and the situations described are, for the most part, ugly ones -- but a profound one. Form reinforces content, making for a powerful punch . . . Quite remarkable."
"There are innocuous books that charm you, gently surprise you at moments you didn't expect, blissfully put you to sleep, make you dream of princes and princesses . . . But there are others, like Lydie Salvayre's novels, that make you sit up and take notice, that directly confront you, that shake you up from the very first sentence, warning you that the test is going to be brutal, the dream is going to be dark, and the princess's smile is going to be painful."
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Genres : Fiction : Europe : Western Europe
Countries : France