Friday, March 5, 2010

The Waitress was New, Dominique Fabre

"I'm only a barman, and when I forget that, the world around me seems like a bunch of different movies running at the same time.  There are romance movies and sad movies, and if you pay attention most of their stories start to get all mixed together, till there's no way you can go on telling them to yourself.  It's like they're all chasing after each other..."

This excerpt shows the complications inherent in the life of the "simple" bartender.  Rather than being the nameless face behind the bar, important only in his quick delivery of a cocktail or beer, this novella by Dominique Fabre goes much deeper into the life of a very complex man.  The story takes place over only a few days, yet we see, in detail, the conflicts within him and within his profession in the upscale cafe Le Cercle, where he's worked some eight years.

There's an abundance of unique characters, from the black-dressed young man who covers his poetry books with paper to hide the contents, to the articulate, kindly man who argues with the Moon and on to the beautiful but betrayed owner's wife.  One of the underlying themes appears to be the pathological desire for order that Pierre, our fifty-six year old barman seeks.  From his keeping the restaurant functioning to the way he does his laundry, Pierre is the picture of routine efficiency mixed with constant self-analysis.  Yet his memories, that flood him often, reveal a past far from the orderly and efficient one he is living now.

This version is translated from the French by Jordan Stump and published by Archipelago Books. 

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