Monday, April 16, 2012

Living like a mushroom

After that he had spent three months in a hospital, although without suffering from any particular ailment; simply because he could not adapt himself to the state of being no longer a child.

Then, without any period of transition, he had become used to being nothing at all! Used to living like that, without the need to be greeted by other men and not caring for their opinion. Used to living like a mushroom or a tree, eating and drinking, doing anything for anyone.

— from The White Horse Inn, by George Simenon.

Written in 1938, and translated anew into English in 1980, The White Horse Inn is described on its book jacket flap as "one of Simenon's most admired novels" and featuring one of "his most powerful characters." (It struck me when I was browsing the library shelves that most of the Simenon novels there were described in a similarly superlative way, even though most of the titles don't ring any sort of bell.)

Distinguishing it from many of the other Simenon works I've read, the heart of this novel is a place, not a person or event.

So far, Simenon has a pretty consistent output — I can't say his earlier novels are any less mature or less psychologically complex than the later ones.

This was a library loan, and I almost didn't read it because of the gross tacky feel of the wrapper. Yuk.

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