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Monsieur Paperback – June 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 108 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156478505X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564785053
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,895,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Whereas the nameless occupant of Toussaint's first book, The Bathroom , chooses a physical immobility, the nameless Monsieur of his second novel is blessed with mental inertia. Monsieur is a highly paid commercial director of Fiat France, who goes to Cannes, types a treatise on crystals, attends a dinner party with the secretary of State, finds a new lover--all without showing any appreciable effort or affect. "Monsieur displayed in all things a listless drive." So does the book. Where most novels are fueled by psychological motivation and emotional impact, Monsieur offers the hero's faineancy, trundled along by Toussaint's matter-of-fact way with the absurd: "Monsieur's brother had two little girls, Monsieur's nieces, twins of six and six," or "A young man . . . asked him, rather nervously, if the seat next to his was free; Monsieur looked at the seat, which was in fact free, it would have been difficult to deny it." In short (and this narrative is short--128 pages), if Tati were a yuppie, he might be Monsieur.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Another deceptively slender novel from French writer Toussaint, more austere than The Bathroom (1990) but just as accomplished. Toussaint is not so much a minimalist as a writer of superb economy, knowing just when to use the baroque, even fulsome, effect and when not, which he does brilliantly in this low-key story of the daily life of a man determined to be a nonentity. Monsieur, a scientist by profession, lives a life of purposeful order and passivity. He is not fond of the telephone and finds most people too volatile. At work he follows a precise daily routine and at meetings sits beside his supervisor, ``scrupulously attentive to remain in line with her body, drawing back when she moved backwards so as to be never too directly exposed.'' At home he creates similar shelters. Though rejected by his fianc‚e, he moves in with her parents; allows himself to type a thesis for a bossy neighbor; spends a weekend in the country with a group of high-placed scientists and politicians; and baby-sits his nieces for his promiscuous brother--but these random events begin to disturb him. Monsieur, ``who asked no more from life than a chair. There hovering between two compromises, he sought refuge in the calming performance of simple gestures,'' had thought that he could separate himself from the flow of time, but now he was beginning to realize that there ``were not two entities but only one, a vast movement that bore him irresistibly away.'' A surprise kiss is his moment of epiphany and release: ``It was no more difficult than that.'' Life was now ``mere child's play, for Monsieur.'' A splendidly realized portrait of a non-hero, whose boring life is anything but. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Poirier on June 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Monsieur is a thirty something young French executive at a prestigious corporation. We meet him as he moves into a new office following a promotion. The most treasured perk of his new job is a machine that makes excellent coffee.

Monsieur arrives early at meetings so that he can grab the most inconspicuous seat. He can't seem to get out of typing a manuscript his neighbour insists on dictating. And of course Monsieur insists on serving a guest coffee when he visits his office.

Is Monsieur a French version of Mr. Bean? Not quite. He does move in with his ex-girlfriend's parents following a soccer injury. They expressed worry, he took it as an invitation. (Why not?). Occasionally Monsieur works out an overly complicated way of solving a problem, for instance how he splits the check on a first date. But when push comes to shove, Mr. Bean is callous while Monsieur is at worst passively insensitive. Mr. Bean's solutions fail spectacularly while Monsieur's succeed discretely.

Unassuming and self-effacing, Monsieur goes through life quietly and successfully. He's not really clueless, he knows he could lose it all which is why he hides. And his escapes, whenever the world tries to intrude, had me in stiches. Hilarious.

Vincent Poirier, Tokyo
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J.G. on February 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The back-cover of this translation talks up the humor of the Monsieur's serene, mundane, and blithe being--and its definitely worthy of the mention. Beyond that, the whole story almost feels as light as the physical book. Monsieur has social annoyances (but little contention) and an extremely light touch of melancholy (or, perhaps, an extremely light concern over his general lack of melancholy). Drama--psychological or otherwise--exists more in possibility than in occurrences. But, don't be deceived: nearly the entire book, by feeling almost as neutral as a window (or Monsieur, himself), generally free of conjecture, allows everything from the absurdity of a dull boardroom to the studied nature of reality pass by, quietly un-contended. With this re-calibrated baseline, the most arduous of shifts in a personal life, here, can seem nearly imperceptible. It's really a very traditional story brushing against some of the weightiest contemporary issues--trimmed down to only the most essential internal wrangling.
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