Saturday, 26 July 2014

Ear, Ear

I was wondering whether the author of a book I read long, long ago was Belgian, so I decided to look him up on the Internet, (what used I to do with my time I wonder). A whole page came up but without a trace of any author, Belgian or otherwise. Instead, seemingly unlimited numbers of entries about some former male model who bears the same surname swarmed across the screen.

But it was Georges, not Josh, Duhamel I was looking for. And Georges is not Belgian, it turns out, he's French, (not sure about Josh [don't care, either]).

I've only read one of Georges's books - Confession de Minuit - but its premise was so original and batty that I've always retained a fondness for it. It is the story of a fairly unremarkable man who one day, for no particular reason, (to borrow a phrase I heard used by a British Rail announcer to explain why the train I was in had stopped for the best part of an hour just outside Clapham Junction station), finds himself overcome by an urge to touch his boss's ear.

The novel describes the consequences of his giving way to this absurd urge. With one tiny, fleeting gesture he crosses the line between acceptable and terrifying behaviour and, predictably, things do not go very well for him from then on.

The book is wonderfully original and blends silliness and seriousness brilliantly, which is why I think it deserves to be better known than it is. I suppose, if I feel really strongly on the subject, I should go off and learn how to work algorithms so as to manipulate the prominence of Internet entries. Then I'll be able to ensure that Duhamel G will out-Google piffling former catwalker, Duhamel J.

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