Monday, February 13, 2012

5. The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun by Sebastien Japrisot

Finally starting to get my reading pace back again.  Still not quite where I was last year, but I am feeling that joy of really getting into a book.  I apologize for my lameness in not getting back to those of you who have so kindly commented (and often quite wittily) in a timely manner.  I hope that my growing reading energy will also translate to more responsible blogging behaviours.

I'm quite happy with my good luck in my recent cheap and free book finds.  Quite often when you take a flyer on an author or book you've never heard of, you can suffer.  I am not able to not complete a fictional book once I've started it and because of that have suffered through some painful reading in the past (The Folly by David Anne is a recent example).  That's the fear that is nestled in your head when you are staring at a cool-looking cover.  Sometimes I'll buy the book but then keep on putting off reading it, so that it is always staring at me from my on-deck shelf, making me feel guilty and questioning whether I have the intestinal fortitude to be a true book nerd.

 The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun is an example of a complete guess.  I found it at the S.W. Welch sidewalk sale for 50 cents.  It looked very intriguing and had a cool cover.  I'd never heard of Japrisot and was mildly concerned that it was a translation. 

It turned out to be a very good read.  It felt a bit like The Red Right Hand as if it had been written by Simenon.  It's the story of a neurotic young Parisian woman who gets asked to drive her boss and his wife to the airport in their fancy Thunderbird.  Instead of returning it to their house as she is supposed to, she decides on a whim to take it on a holiday drive.  Her head is full of her own neurotic and insecure thoughts.  She is a weird girl, seemingly attractive but isolated and in the habit of lying to her work colleagues about her life (and particularly her vacation plans).  As she travels through the outskirts of Paris and the small towns along the vacation route, things start to get weird.  Someone attacks her in a gas station bathroom and when she comes to, her hand is injured and she isn't sure for how long she had been out.  Even weirder, people start acting like they had already come across her.  The reader as well as the heroine are really not sure what the hell is going on.  Is she insane?  Is she the victim of some bizarre, improbable plot?  It's a compelling journey across the social and physical landscape of late-60s France, with lots of amoral people at every stop.  As the mystery gets weirder and more convoluted, we also learn more about the girl. 

Worth checking out.  I'd read another of this guy's books for sure.

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