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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Crush

by
Frédéric Dard


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Crush



Title: Crush
Author: Frédéric Dard
Genre: Novel
Written: 1959 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 156 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Crush - US
Crush - UK
Crush - Canada
Les scélérats - Canada
Les scélérats - France
  • French title: Les scélérats
  • Translated by Daniel Seton
  • Les scélérats was made into a film in 1960, directed by Robert Hossein

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Our Assessment:

B+ : effective little story

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Wall St. Journal . 10/10/2016 Tobias Grey


  From the Reviews:
  • "For a start, translator Daniel Seton has done a superb job Anglicizing Dard’s sometimes tortuous French colloquialisms and appropriating his conversational tone. (...) The only possible complaint is that, like the other books being published by Pushkin, the whole thing lasts barely 150 pages. But in this age of prolixity it’s not disagreeable to encounter a writer who reveled in a short, sharp well-told tale." - Tobias Grey, Wall Street Journal

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Crush is narrated by Louise Lacroix, miserable in small-town (and "artificial and sad") Léopoldville. She's in her late teens, with a decent if stultifying factory job, but it's all too dreary and predictable for her -- right from the foundations of Léopoldville itself:

Towns should be built all in one go, by one man -- they end up looking too much like warrens, and the people living there like rabbits.
       Her dreary home life, with her mother and feeble Arthur, her not-quite step-dad (Arthur isn't married to her mother), doesn't help. Dreaming of escape, her imagination is captured by a house she passes on her way home from work; "it existed on a sort of desert island all of its own". Americans live there, the Roolands, the husband, Jess, working at NATO headquarters.
       After another altercation at home, Louise convinces the Roolands to take her on as a live-in maid and makes good her escape. She asserts herself and quickly makes herself comfortable in the new household, and with the couple -- even though all the wife, Thelma, does is "drink and listen to records".
       Louise is pleased with her new situation, and even when tragedy strikes, she remains -- even though she admits:
I must be a funny sort of girl, really. Anyone else my age would've hated the hollow life I was leading [.....] Well, not me -- I was enchanted by it all. I found all that solitude and silence calming.
       Jess seems to passionately love Thelma, but the young girl is drawn to the foreigner with the fast car. She thinks she has a chance with him -- and tries to manipulate situations to her advantage. Some of that works out, but not everything -- and ultimately she drives him, catastrophically, away.
       Dard builds up this subtle psychological thriller carefully, laying the groundwork for what follows -- and springing a surprise or two, as he suggests one explanation behind some of the events but then unveils an entirely different one. A lot relies on Louise's carefree, almost impulsive, manner, and her tone, which Dard handles well. She's not exactly an unreliable narrator and she seems, in giving her account, almost entirely forthright, but as she describes how she gets what she wants readers do slowly get a sense that she may be framing her narrative, and her descriptions of what happened, in a particular way. And when the entire story is ultimately unpeeled, things do look radically different.
       Relying perhaps a bit much on its shock-ending, Crush feels a bit of an in-between work -- not quite fleshed out enough to be a true psychological study (as so often with Dard's quick works, one gets the sense that a contemporary writer would have padded and drawn out this same story at much greater length), but also not the compact short-story that might have packed a quicker and hence harder punch. But Crush is also so well-crafted that it's the rare thriller that holds up very well to a second reading, when the foreshadowing can be read in a different light.
       Another nice, dark Dard thriller.

- M.A.Orthofer, 2 November 2016

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Links:

Crush: Reviews: Frédéric Dard: Other books by Frédéric Dard under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Frédéric Dard (1921-2000) is best known for his 'San-Antonio' novels.

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