A slim collection of stories by turns witty, mysterious, and absurd.
A young man picks up his father-in-law from the airport. Since they’ve never met, their time in the car will be the only time they ever spend together. When they get back to the 26th-floor apartment where the young man, Saez, lives with his wife, Marie, the father-in-law goes inside, and Saez goes to take care of the suitcase. The next thing Saez knows, the father-in-law has fallen out the window. Marie is out of town, incommunicado, so Saez must recruit a friend to help him pack up the body and take it back to the Armenian village from which it came. There are echoes here of As I Lay Dying, but Bizot’s story is somehow even more absurd: when they eventually arrive in the village, Saez and his friend find it empty of people. Finally, a couple shows up, but they aren’t interested in the body or its burial—or anything, really, except an alarm clock Saez gives them. The story is the strongest in Bizot’s first collection to appear in English. Bizot has a fine sense of the absurd and an even finer sense of deadpan. Story after story begins in medias res, with details about the characters, their relationships to each other, and what exactly is happening only appearing gradually—and sometimes not at all. In one, three siblings hide out in the country, working a farm they barely know how to handle. In the title story, a man watches with disapproval the gardeners who uproot his yard. Throughout the book, characters wait and wait. For the most part, there isn’t much plot. An old woman in a fine hotel describes a pair of honeymooners who claim to have seen half a dozen rats in their room. No one else has seen the rats.
Well regarded in France, her native country, Bizot’s first appearance in this language is a gift to English-speaking readers.