A small Alpine community appears to have recovered from a great war in which young men from the village died. Most did not return. But one did in Philippe Claude's novel Brodeck.
Brodeck survived a prison camp by degrading himself, crawling on all fours with a dog collar on to amuse the guards. He writes reports now, chronicling the changing of the seasons and noting the passage of time.
Time passes very slowly for the village, as well as for Brodeck, his wife, daughter and
the woman who raised him as her own child. It's not quite a time of healing, but it is a
time when the townsfolk give the impression they are not ready to live again.
They don't have much of a choice when a stranger arrives, a larger-than-life figure with
a donkey and a horse, who follows people around. Then comes "the thing that happened", when the stranger is killed. The leaders of the village charge Brodeck with writing a report to explain what happened, to justify any actions taken.
Brodeck also resolves to write his own version, keeping it secret.
Weaving back and forth in time to capture miniature portraits of townsfolk and the horrors Brodeck and his family survived, Claudel's novel builds in intensity as the cruelties of both individuals and mob rule are revealed. The end is an enormous revelation that brings into sharp focus what a human being is capable of doing.
Claudel's earlier works, including the novel By a Slow River and the film I've Loved You For So Long, also explore the fallout of deliberately caused tragedy, but in perhaps more conventional manners.
Brodeck is a remarkable dark fable of survival, reasoning and the search for how to understand the human heart when people do things the mind cannot comprehend. The tone is of an omnious fairy tale, when Hansel and Gretel really could be put in an oven by a witch.
This is a story that deserves to be told to as many as will listen, so they promise themselves to never do what others have done, and to recognize what Hannah Arendt called the "banality of evil" in the every day.
Claudel has written another novel that was published in the United States in July, The Investigation. According to information from the publisher, Nan A. Talese, it is supposed to be a "Kafka-esque romp through a dystopian landscape, probing the darkly comic nature of the human condition".
The Investigator is a nondescript fellow assigned to look into suicides at the Enterprise. Like the village, the Enterprise is located in an unnamed town. Nothing about his journey or anything in the town is as anyone would expect in what appears to be another dark fable. It's one I look forward to discovering.
Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule
|DAY||TIME (EST/EDT)||Series Name||Editor(s)|
|SUN||6:00 PM||Young Reader's Pavilion||The Book Bear|
|Sun (hiatus)||9:30 PM||SciFi/Fantasy Book Club||quarkstomper|
|Bi-Monthly Sun||Midnight||Reading Ramblings||don mikulecky|
|MON||8:00 PM||Monday Murder Mystery||Susan from 29|
|Mon||11:00 PM||My Favorite Books/Authors||edrie, MichiganChet|
|alternate Tuesdays||8:00AM||LGBT Literature||Texdude50, Dave in Northridge|
|Tue||10:00 PM||Contemporary Fiction Views||bookgirl|
|Wed||8:00 PM||Bookflurries Bookchat||cfk|
|THU||8:00 PM||Write On!||SensibleShoes|
|alternate Thu||11:00 PM||Audiobooks Club||SoCaliana|
|FRI||8:00 AM||Books That Changed My Life||Diana in NoVa|
|SAT (fourth each month)||11:00 AM||Windy City Bookworm||Chitown Kev|
|Sat||9:00 PM||Books So Bad They're Good||Ellid|