Emmanuel Carrère is known as “The Stephen King of France” but somehow I fail to see the comparison. First of all, Carrère is a much better writer than King and secondly, there seems to be nothing in common with their styles, or even subject matter. Then again, perhaps these two particular short novels, contained in this one volume, are different from his other books, I don’t know. To me, a more fair comparison would be Kafka or Borges, at least in tone and/or subject matter.
I enjoyed these two stories very much, especially “Class Trip”, which seems to be more in line with contemporary authors Niccoló Ammaniti, Paolo Giordano and Simone Vinci. The subject matter here is a troubled youth, who goes away with his classmates to a ski trip at a resort somewhere in France. The boy is shy, awkward and has trouble fitting in with the rest of his class. His vivid imagination often “frees” him from the anxiety he feels. Meanwhile, a boy disappears from the excursion and what young Nicholas discovers is even more terrifying than his vivid fantasies.
“The Mustache” is a Kafka-esque tale about identity. An absurd comedy about a man who decides to one day shave off his mustache. When he does, his friends and family not only fail to recognize him but deny the mustache had even existed in the first place. What follows is a twisted and often comical tale about a man struggling with the nature of reality and trying to come to grips with who he truly is.
Enjoyable and recommended.