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Everyday Life Paperback – September 14, 2006


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Everyday Life + The Company of Ghosts (French Literature Series)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 119 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; 1St Edition edition (September 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564783499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564783493
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,898,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A longtime secretary at a French marketing firm is sent gradually over the edge by the newly arrived competition in French novelist Salvayre's (The Company of Ghosts) bitterly comic 1999 novel. After 32 years of service, the loyal, widowed Madame Suzanne Barette can barely endure the vulgar, blowsy new blond secretary. Madam Barette's diaristic diatribes form the book's short chapters; she prides herself on being restrained, even fanatically polite, especially when crossed by her resentful daughter, gossiping apartment neighbors and prickly cleaning lady. The new secretary, however, lays bare Barette's position as the anachronism in the office, and reveals her troubled relationship with her married daughter (who hates Barette for her emotional coldness, but married a condescending doctor exactly like her mother). Salvayre marvelously conveys the aged narrator's paranoia and impotence, as well as her grotesquely funny antagonist's bigotry and stupidity. Salvayre's wicked, slender portrayal is cold comfort for cubicle workers of all stripes.
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Review

"Salvayre's work applies a cheerful irony to very dark preoccupations: chiefly the connection between political repression and family horrors, and the male sickness of authoritarianism.... Salvayre is a writer with a mission."--London Review of Books


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bucherwurm on January 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Madame Suzanne tells us about the difficulties of her daily life. This is a short novel, but in a way that is a blessing. After all how long can the reader let this obnoxious woman bend our ear? Suzanne seems to live in Plato's cave where she sees her fellow humans as shadows that she has great difficulty in interpreting. She continually shares her philosophy of life with us. At one point she says:

"I don't go out of my way to find friendly people. Friendliness disgusts me. Wearing the mask of a smile, friendly people insinuate themselves into your life. They pry and wreak havoc."

You can imagine what happens when a new secretary joins the office staff. We have learned enough by now that when Suzanne describes her as a fat woman with disgusting bulbous breasts, the new secretary must be an attractive, sexy lady. Suzanne never seems to have met a human being that she liked, except, as she says for her father and her boss Mr. Mayer. She pointedly omits her daughter and son-in-law.

Periodically those around her manage to spark a flame of warmth in her cold heart, but she generally manages to douse it before it spreads too far. Her paranoia knows no bounds. Everyone is out to destroy her, to spread malicious tales about her. She retreats further into her dark psychic tunnel.

Why should we care about all this? Why should we let Suzanne go through this wailing and gnashing of teeth in our presence? Because, in a morbid sense, she is quite amusing. After all we don't have to live with her; we just have to listen for awhile. It's rather refreshing to pick up a novel as unusual as this one. Does Suzanne ever see the world in a better light? Possibly. Read it and find out. I say read it, because I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the movie to appear. It would be a little too frightening to watch.
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