Book Review: Reader on the 6:27, by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Available in bookstores nationwide on 4 June.

cv_the_reader_on_the_6.27An absolute delight. This charming little tale is to literature what Amelie was to film: the heart-warming tale of someone who is socially a little bit different, quirky and perhaps a little bit insecure. Guylain loves books, but he has the miserable task of killing them, working as he does in a paper-pulping factory. Every day, he preserves their memories by salvaging stray pages of texts, live skins, from the belly of the beast, and every day he reads aloud from these pages on the 6.27 train. The tales he tells are disjointed, fragmented, random snippets, but they weave around them the magic of the story.

And then, one day, he finds a USB stick, lost down the back of his chair. He takes it home, plugs it into his computer – perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps to try and find the owner – and he discovers a woman.

Julie is a bathroom attendant in a large shopping mall, and she records her life, and although one might think that the diary of a bathroom attendant might be dull, a nothing kind-of life, it is not. For Julie, like Guylain, and yes, like Amelie, is one of those folks who can see the beauty in the everyday.

Funny, sweet, poignant and beautiful, this French fable is never sappy nor sentimental. The characters are rich and unique – Guylain with his drab, relatively monotonous life, lit by the occasional golden spark; Giuseppe, his crippled friend, who seeks desperately to find what he, himself has lost; the love of literature shines through in the prose, which is a lyrical delight even translated, as it is, from the original French.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

Reader on the 6:27
by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
Published by Mantle
ISBN 9781447276463

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