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Small Lives by Pierre Michon
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Small Lives (1984)

by Pierre Michon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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214683,222 (3.93)3
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» See also 3 mentions

French (3)  English (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (6)
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This book has won prizes, the English translation won a big prize, Small Lives is well-known in France, it's worth three dozen Martin Amis's, yet it seems to be little-known here.

Small Lives is about eight people living in deeply rural France. There are feuds, disappearances, disappointments. A man's refusal to reveal his illiteracy leads to his death. A priest conducts services in an empty church. Happenings and doings and people about which the outside world knows nothing, cares nothing, but that are the world in these small lives. What Graham Robb has to say about peasant life in The Discovery of France is brought to life here, but most of the events and interactions in the book would not seem unfamiliar to inhabitants of any rural area that's kept many of its old ways.

Small Lives is beautifully written. The people seem real (well, they are to a degree) and the places, both landscape and interiors, are evocative and exquisitely drawn. Michon is able to alter his style and tone seamlessly and appropriately and he always draws the reader along with him.

Because the book is apparently highly autobiographical, some of the lives are of those of Michon's family. It's natural that we should get to know the narrator/Michon, just as it's natural that in so small a settlement each person has a strong connection with the others. Gradually it's he who becomes the main character in the book, and that's the only quibble I have. The change in focus is smooth, the literary and personal reasons for the change are easy to understand, but I would rather have learned more about Father Bandy than Michon's broken love affair, more about Claudette than Michon's addiction, more about the field gone back to the wild than Michon's dead sister. It makes no sense, inasmuch as the writer's life has been eventful and turbulent and the lives of his other subjects were so only in quiet ways, but whilst Michon is always interesting to read, he's most interesting when delineating others' small lives. No doubt that's an idiosyncratic reaction and no doubt other readers will find the book richer and of greater depth when the story-teller becomes the story.
  bluepiano | Dec 30, 2016 |
une écriture de braise ( )
  jdallari | Nov 18, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pierre Michonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gladding, JodyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weber, AnneÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Par malheur, il croit que les petites gens
sont plus réels que les autres.

André Suarés
Unfortunately, he believes that small people are more real than others

André Suarés
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to Andrée Gayaudon
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Explores the act of writing through the intimate portraits of eight interconnected individuals in the author's native village of Creuse. In this evocative poetic narrative the quest to breathe life into the stories of these individuals becomes an exploration of the author's own voice. Michon does not deny the autobiographical nature of this haunting and seminal work, which only serves to heighten and empower the writing. [Amazon.co.uk]
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Explores the act of writing through the intimate portraits of eight interconnected individuals in the author's native village of Creuse. In Michon's evocative poetic narrative, the quest to breathe life into the stories of these individuals becomes an exploration of the author's own voice. Michon does not deny the autobiographical nature of his haunting and seminal work, which only serves to heighten and empower the writing.

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Archipelago Books

2 editions of this book were published by Archipelago Books.

Editions: 0972869212, 1935744704

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