“Mammals” by Pierre Mérot

Pierre Mérot MammalsPierre Mérot’s novel Mammals was a radical departure from his earlier, darkly poetic, Bataille inspired prose-poems. It’s an autobiographical novel about a middle aged French man in crisis, but where Houellebecq is bleakly pessimistic and intellectually challenging (though often wrong-headed), and Beigbeder is narcissistic and romantic, Mérot’s tale ina  funny, prolix, arch, stylized account of romanticised despair. Think Bukowski, now add a Tom Waits soundtrack. Its weakness is, being autobiographical, the narrative has nowhere to go so just peters out…

Praise for Mammals

“French novelist Pierre Mérot has given us a cynical and brutally amusing confessional in this impressive translation of his novel Mammals. It is a literature of inelegant truths, a tale of relentless debauchery. (…) Mammals could have been one long wallow in lost love and aborted jobs (…) but the most refreshingly charged disclosures are at the heart of the novel.”
Almeda Glenn Miller, The Globe & Mail


“Such essays on contemporary malaise and ennui are commonplace, but Mammals’ charm is that Uncle’s ceaseless mordant irony is genuinely funny, and that Merot’s sleek prose slips past you as easily as the second half of a bottle of decent red.”
Laurence Phelan, Independent on Sunday


“This is a novel of unfulfilled potential, in which the Uncle’s attempts at subversion are a defence against his repeated failures and a last-ditch attempt at attention-seeking. So far, so unoriginal. (…) Houellebecq he is not. Nor is he Lowry, or Bataille, with whom he seems to think he has something in common. Perhaps Charles Bukowski ? But Charles Bukowski crossed with Jim Morrison.”
Tom Webber, New Statesman


“Merot’s language is so packed that Wynne’s occasional awkward translation can be violently jarring. But that’s a testament to the author’s talent: there may not be much plot in the uncle’s story, but he tells it supremely well.”
Etelka Lehoczky, The New York Times Book Review


“Mérot has little patience with conventional narrative’s stratagem of suspense, relying instead on outrage, anecdote, perverse humour, and flights of fancy, to sustain interest. (…) Family, romantic love, psychiatry, education are all subjected to Uncle’s frequently funny, resoundingly cynical pseudo-scientific observations.”
Mark Kamine, Times Literary Supplement

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