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This review is taken from PN Review 67, Volume 15 Number 5, May - June 1989.

THE PIERROT SHOW Raymond Queneau, Pierrot Mon Ami, translated by Barbara Wright, (Atlas) £5.50
Raymond Queneau, Loin de Rueil, translated as The Skin of Dreams by H.J. Kaplan (Atlas) £5.50
Maurice Blanchot, The Last Man, translated by Lydia Davis (Columbia University Press) $20.00
Michel Tournier, The Golden Droplet, translated by Barbara Wright (Collins) £10.95

The first thing Pierrot is told to do is remove his glasses. One lens is later cracked in a brawl and he also gets a black eye. The last objects he sees are two dustbins filled with the rubbish that his would-be adopter hoped he would preserve. He walks away, laughing at yet another set-back. Pierrot is one of Queneau's most appealing heroes - definitely the reader's friend, even though, as the reversal of the words of the song imply, he is never to profit from a fairy-tale ending. Despite being sacked from the Amusement Park three times, despite losing Yvonne and missing an inheritance, he drifts amiably through life, interested but never involved, living in the present, seeing with an amused, if inadequate, eye the tangles of ambition, deceit, uncertainty and crime which ensnare the other characters (most of whose names also begin with a P). Names fascinated Queneau: in Le Dimanche de la vie, the surname of the in-laws changes all the time; the parallel characters in Les Fleurs bleues share the same name Joachim - which also spells out their initials; Queneau was pleased that his own Christian name and surname had the same number of letters - and the heroes of these two novels, Pierrot and Jacques L'Aumône have seven letters as well.

Pierrot's first job is to plonk girls down on a current of air so their skirts fly up. The rowdy, seedy world of the Uni-Park with its dodgems and tunnel ...


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