The Eskimo Solution
Author: Pascal Garnier
Emily Boyce & Jane Aitken
Publisher: Gallic Books
US Release date: September 13, 2016
La Solution Eskimau
was first released in French in 2006
also available as ebook
Genre: crime fiction / thriller/ noir
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
“Une fois n’est pas coutume”, the latest translation of a book by Garnier, The Eskimo Solution, left me disappointed, though it did contain some of his usual strong points.
The narrator of the book is actually writing a book about a character he names Louis, so it’s Garnier’s version of a book within a book. Louis is 40, living a low life, and obsessed with death. He starts killing parents of friends in need, to help them get a more happy life, like an “anonymous benefactor”. A variation on what Eskimos do with the elderly members of their family — hence the title of the book. Definitely offered her as a unique perspective on morality!
That’s interesting to note that Garnier himself ending up dying fairly young, in his early 60s.
Chapters alternate between the narrator’s life and excerpts of his own book. Of course, it sometimes takes a while to figure out whom we are talking about, especially as some elements of his work get mingled with events in his own life. Like Louis, he is forced to do things against his will.
I was actually a bit disappointed that the line between both was not even more blurry, it all felt too obvious where things were going.
But I did enjoy as always Garnier’s style, the way he does not mince his words to express his harsh view on society – and possibly too on the world of writing, as his narrator has a hard time with his editor!
In the middle of the noir, there can be humor, well, dark humor, as well. I found it in this implicit reference to a famous song by Jacques Brel:
Nat wants wine and so that’s what we drink, and if she wanted to go and look around Honfleur, we’d do that too.
Garnier not only offers provoking thoughts, he actually seems to throw them right to the face of the reader! I’d like to share a few lines illustrating this:
Tomorrow is such a handy thing. Everything you haven’t done, everything you plan to do, tomorrow! That must be the most disconcerting thing about death – no more tomorrows.
Traveling wasn’t too bad because it didn’t really feel like traveling. There were the same pedestrianized streets in the center, the same fashions, the same exasperating music everywhere – the same everything everywhere.
Except that Marion, like all tourists, did not want to be taken for a tourist, which meant interminable traipsing around rancid suburbs looking for a ‘typical’ little hotel or a ‘charming’ caff whilst lugging enormous suitcases.
A body was a stupid thing. All it needed was food and sleep, and on it went, just like any vehicle. But who was really driving it?
Sometimes, his images are so powerfully graphic they are gross:
My editor’s whinging voice has left the telephone all sticky. It was coming through the little holes in the handset like meat from a butcher’s mincer. Very unsavory.
If you are an aficionado of Garnier, I guess this book is ok, though he has trained me to expect so much more brilliancy. If you have not read him yet, I would suggest a more characteristic book of his, either Moon in a Dead Eye, The Islanders, or Too Close to the Edge.
EN DEUX MOTS :
Sur son ton habituel où vous vous en prenez en pleine poire, Garnier nous offre ici une version du roman dans un roman. Il s’attaque cette fois au thème de la morale. Noir et provocateur, comme d’habitude.
VERDICT: At the edge between fiction and reality, Garnier’s novel within a novel invites his readers to rethink morality. Where provocative and noir meet.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
A children’s writer rents a house on the Normandy coast where he plans to write his first crime novel. There, away from his love life, his editor and his friends, he’ll be free to pen the story of Louis, who after killing his mother, is inspired to relieve his friends of their own burdensome elderly relatives.
But even far away from everything he knows, distractions seem to find their way to his door: from his lovable elderly neighbours, to his girlfriend’s tearaway teenage daughter. And somehow, events from his life appear to overlap with those of his imagination…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist,
short story writer, children’s author and painter.
From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche,
he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life.
Though his writing is often very dark in tone,
it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit.
Garnier’s work has been likened to the great thriller writer, Georges Simenon.
Read an article by Pascal Garnier, describing his path to becoming a writer.