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Or rather, she finds herself hovering between her increasingly plump human form and a pig state. Such is the intensity of her apologies that the reader is poised to be rather less shocked than either her heroine or Darrieussecq might be expecting or hoping. Initially the narrator resembles a coyly innocent and slightly less criminal version of Moll Flanders. After all, she is merely a poor young girl looking for work, who gives great massages. Personally she has a lot to offer, more and more as the story progresses. I'd put on weight - four or five pounds, perhaps Now I understand that this extra weight and the wonderful quality of my flesh must have been the very first symptoms.
By five, our heroine, one of those women who are always pawed and exploited by men, is sitting drinking cocktails at the poolside of a local swimming club. Honore, her new male friend, is explaining how the wave machine works. Then everyone would swim in the red water until the wee hours. Meanwhile she continues becoming more and more wholesome, more and more fat: "My complexion was turning ruddy, and the customers gradually fell into barnyard ways with me, their new inclinations turned the massage table into a sort of hay-stack out in a field.
Potted pork now makes her feel sick and she begins to be haunted by images of slaughter. Yet Darrieussecq is careful to win some sympathy for her beleaguered heroine, whose complacency is soon replaced by self-disgust. Conscious that her relationship with Honore is over, she buys a guinea pig and a small dog. When her boyfriend finally throws her out, she takes to sleeping out under the oak trees.
Approached by our pig-heroine, the woman becomes hysterical. As the heroine becomes more desperate, her narrative becomes increasingly hilarious, in the sickest of ways. She meets up with a new boyfriend, Yvan, who seems normal enough, except that when the moon is full he turns into a wolf. This presents its difficulties, which are solved by staying in and ordering a pizza.
You couldn't tell the blood from the tomato sauce. After that we had dinner delivered regularly, every evening on the full moon. I ate the pizza. Yvan ate the pizza man. The jacket claims French readers are buying this first novel at the rate of 2, copies a day. These days, it seems, you can become a literary cult if you find the right mix of offbeat sex and violence. Linda Coverdale's translation is snappily adroit, and most of Darrieussecq's barbed swipes at our rotten society are driven home.
Looks like the silly season has arrived. Should there be a film version, Luc Besson will surely make it. Makes you wonder about the state of French fiction, though. Please update your payment details to keep enjoying your Irish Times subscription. Woman into pig Sat, Jun 28, , Eileen Battersby.
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Woman into pig