The comically tortured thought processes of an amiable and very confused Parisian slacker are memorably explored in this 1999 winner of France’s Prix Médicis: the seventh novel by a popular author who also writes pseudonymous detective stories and children’s books. Oster’s engaging narrator Gavarine loses his job, a briefcase containing his apartment keys, then his girlfriend; nor can he find the note explaining her absence he’s sure she must have left . . . on and on the confusions, second thoughts, qualifications, and distractions proliferate as Gavarine travels about the countryside, encounters one fascinating and maddening woman after another, and eventually finds employment, love, and détente with his own manic, inchoate sensibility. A wry farcical romance and coming-of-age tale like no other: an altogether charming entertainment.