WE ALWAYS TREAT WOMEN TOO WELL by Raymond Queneau

WE ALWAYS TREAT WOMEN TOO WELL

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Published in France in 1949 under the pseudonym ""Sally Mara,"" Queneau's very literary send-up of the sex-and-sadism thriller elicited little popular response--which isn't hard to understand as one reads it now in Wright's cute English translation. The story is sheer barn-blare and bang-bang: IRA insurrectionists in 1916 storm Dublin's Eden Quay post office and get rid of the staff; but they miss (and are thereafter stuck with) sexy clerk Gertie Girdle, who's in the Ladies' lay at the time of the takeover; and so Gertie becomes the cool instigator of the sexually insecure rebels' doom. Queneau tries to transform this material by trivializing the violence: the spilt blood eventually registers with no more impact than ketchup. He mocks hard-boiled clichÉs: "" 'Which one of us? ' asked Callinan, in a pale voice. 'Caffrey!' declared Gallagher, in a dark voice . . . 'That illiterate!' cried medic O'Rourke, in a cadmium-yellow voice. 'Well, shit then!' concluded John McCormack, in an ochre voice."" And he also laces the goings-on with straight-out homage to James Joyce: the IRA men's codeword is ""Finnegans Wake""; the names are lifted from Ulysses; and Gertie is a tighter-lipped but no less potent Molly Bloom. But, with all these efforts, the gore is excessive, the prose self-consciously terse, and the fun-making very broad--making this a very slight, sporadically amusing little jape that's likely to please only a few in-the-know literati.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: New Directions