From the TBR Shelf #32: Moon in a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier,204,203,200_.jpgMoon in a Dead Eye (2009, 2013) by Pascal Garnier; transl. by Emily Boyce

I picked up Moon in a Dead Eye recently, knowing nothing about Pascal Garnier and having read very little contemporary French literature in translation. Nonetheless, the brief description of the story sounded intriguing, and at just 130 pages, it would be a quick read.

It's amazing what a skilled, careful writer can do in such a small space.

At first, you're reading about a newly-constructed gated community and the senior citizens who have moved to it for their retirement. Everything seems fine, in fact, more than fine (which should make you at least a little bit suspicious). Yes, only a few people have actually moved to the community, and most of the houses are empty; and yes, the groundskeeper is a bit creepy and the weather isn't that great. But things should start looking up, right?

Pretty soon, the Nodes, the Sudres, Lea, and Nadine (the events coordinator) start spending more time together, sightseeing and hanging out on the beach. And then, slowly but surely, everything starts falling apart. Odette starts seeing a fly everywhere that no one else sees, Maxime becomes hyper-paranoid about the gypsies who have gathered down the road from the community, and Lea's "spells" (in which she shuts down and has no memory of it afterward) become more frequent.

And when Martial, a seemingly peaceful, rational man, becomes interested in Maxime's gun (which he keeps with him to protect them from the gypsies), it's all downhill from there.

What makes Moon so deliciously creepy and disturbing is that Garnier tells the story of these hapless people in a jaunty yet ironic way, inviting us to both pity and laugh at them. The reader is carried along effortlessly until she stops and thinks back on what she's just read, and then everything seems much more menacing than at first glance.

You'd better believe I'm going to read more Garnier.

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