Thursday 25 February 2021

How's the Pain? - Pascal Garnier

Death is Simon’s business. And now the ageing vermin exterminator is preparing to die. But he still has one last job down on the coast, and he needs a driver. 

Bernard is twenty-one. He can drive and he’s never seen the sea. He can’t pass up the chance to chauffeur for Simon, whatever his mother may say. As the unlikely pair set off on their journey, Bernard soon finds that Simon’s definition of vermin is broader than he’d expected … 

Veering from the hilarious to the horrific, this offbeat story from master stylist Pascal Garnier is at heart an affecting study of human frailty. 

What did I think?

Pascal Garnier is certainly what I would consider one of my great finds of 2020 and I was so looking forward to reading more of his books after I'd read and enjoyed A Long Way Off.  I picked up How's the Pain? and I was hooked from the first shocking chapter, unable to put the book down until I had greedily devoured every single perfect word, flawlessly translated once again by Emily Boyce.

At 171 pages, How's the Pain? is a short book but my goodness, there's lots going on in it.  I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions as, although it's considered to be in the noir genre, it's very funny.  By carefully choosing his words, Pascal Garnier creates such well developed characters that the reader really gets to know over the course of the book.  Even though he has a dubious career, I really liked Simon and I loved the interaction between him and his new acquaintance Bernard.

The writing is sublime and the narrative is sharp and witty, making the story flow beautifully and it's easy to read in one short sitting (I think it took me about 90 minutes to read).  It's definitely a book I'll read again, as I'm sure I'll have missed some things at the rate I was reading, and I've no doubt that I'll still find the same parts hilarious.

Filled with dark humour and quirky characters, How's the Pain? is completely magnifique!

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for me to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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