Without going into the details of the other seven short stories here, La Roue is well titled, as the first story, 'La Roue', is certainly the best, although nothing much really happens in it: it's the way the story, such as it is, is unveiled that is of importance.
Of great importance, too, are the digressions, and this is very digressive writing, every tiny and often insignificant detail being used up in the making of it. The narrator, the unnamed man in the story, agonises about the exact nature of the temperature when he goes to fetch an unused hammer from his shed. This is after a tortuous discussion about the kind of hammer needed – in other words what it is needed for – after a well-dressed woman who has randomly knocked on his door and finally tells him that she can't loosen the nuts from her car wheel, and that the tyre is punctured.
When the narrator goes to see the car in a field there is a sizeable digression about the man's hand-bell, and how he loves the sound and the nature of it, refusing to cede to his partner Lily's wishes to install an electric one. We even have a short description of what he looks like carrying his big hammer – like a workman (although he's a writer) – and of the nature of country roads.
Eventually a well-dressed man (albeit a little oil-besmirched) appears, and as the narrator (in detail, of course) changes the wheel he learns that the man has walked out of his own wedding ceremony and chosen the woman he loves rather than marry someone he doesn't.
So there we have it. This seemed very promising, but unfortunately none of the other stories were anything like as interesting.
Christian Gailly: Nuage Rouge
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