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Pig Tales


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About the Author

Marie Darrieussecq was born in 1969 in Bayonne, France. She is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. Her debut novel, Pig Tales (1996), was published in 34 countries and became the most popular first novel in France since the 1950s. Her second novel,My Phantom Husband (1998), became an immediate bestseller. Her third novel, Breathing Underwater, prompted Francis Gilbert in The Times to declare that 'there are very few writers who may have changed my perception of the world, but Darrieussecq is one of them'. Her most recent novel, White, was published in 2005.


"I suspect that any publisher who agrees to take on this manuscript will be heading for trouble," admits the unnamed female narrator of this brash first novel, which is set in France in the not-too-distant future. The narrator works in a beauty/massage parlor and becomes distressed by her gradual transformation into a werepig. Much of this progression is documented by her increasing appetites for food and sex, but also by her ruddying complexion, narrowing eyes and the appearance of a corkscrewing tail. The world, too, seems to be transforming itself, as external events intrude on the narrator's life: revolutions, counterrevolutions, feasts, famines and epidemics. It all points, albeit vaguely, to a satire of French far-right politics. As for the protagonist, she suffers through perils but emerges, her naïveté intact, essentially unbowed. The novel's 20-something author is a French schoolteacher with a sharp pen and a strong eye for quirk. Some of the ancillary characters, such as Yvan the aristocratic werewolf, pack a pizazzful punch, but Pig Tales keeps striking the same notes over and over: from the worship of flesh/meat on the bone to the constant porcine puns, this short book tires out much too fast. (May) FYI: Pig Tales is currently selling 3000 copies a day in France, and a film version, to be directed by Jean-Luc Godard, is in the works.

Translated from last year's best-selling French title Truisimes, this first novel reads like a letter from a high school pal whom you'd really like to help out, but gee.... It is the turn of the millennium, we gather from various crises, wars, and seizures of power that have rattled French society, and something funny has happened to our narrator, who relates her story from a mud puddle somewhere in the countryside. She's turned into a pig: a gradual transformation‘weight gain, pink complexion‘which at first heightened her success as a masseuse at a "cosmetics" parlor, then ultimately‘when the row of dugs sprouted and she preferred traveling on her trotters‘cost her her hard-won job and boyfriend. Driven into the sewers and a life of stealthful groveling, she becomes the "wholesome" poster girl for the leading candidate in the elections, who wins and ushers in a crackdown on public morals. Needless to say, the novel tries hard as an allegory of human corruption in its most flagrant forms (though the animal kingdom doesn't come off much better), yet its fake-modest tone and flat-footed prose keep it from being more than merely curious.‘Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"

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