Rage against the machine?


The Reader on the 6.27  Jean-Paul Didierlaurent translated by Ros Schwartz

As he commutes to work, Guylain Vignolles reads book extracts to his fellow commuters.  We soon learn that this is a an act of rebellion perhaps even a tad anarchic.  Guylain is in fact rescuing these extracts from the paper-recycling machine his job has him feeding.

There will be many who will see Guylain as some kind of proletarian hero, raging against the machine.  Personally, I found that aspect of his character more quirky than heroic.  What was heroic was his support for his friend and predecessor of the machine.  His ingenious way of supporting his friend touched my heart completely.

I wonder if the author wants readers to rage against the destruction of books.  My kindle so dominates my reading that I just don’t feel strongly enough about ordinary paperbacks to care.  After all surely recycling is a good thing?!  And the descriptions of the beast of a machine are fab.  Hopefully that view doesn’t negate the love of books and literature that is tightly woven throughout the story.  There’s a fundamental message about how books and literature can help you cope with something ugly in your life.  Shades of Neil Gaiman I think!

This is a heart warming and uplifting read about a cast of misfits brought together through a love of the written word. Yes, the characters are quirky and mostly society misfits but they are also believable and real.  It’s a very short but powerful read, beautifully translated – it should have you questioning the nature of work.  The reflections on the working poor are so apt for our current social discourse.

And I loved the ending. Overall sweet but with a touch of sass!