Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

buy us books !
Amazon wishlist

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada



the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Happy Days

Laurent Graff

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

To purchase Happy Days

Title: Happy Days
Author: Laurent Graff
Genre: Novel
Written: 2001 (Eng. 2004)
Length: 99 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Happy Days - US
Happy Days - UK
Happy Days - Canada
Les Jours heureux - Canada
Les Jours heureux - France
Die glücklichen Tage - Deutschland
Giorni felici - Italia
Los días felices - España
  • French title: Les Jours heureux
  • Translated by Linda Coverdale

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B+ : amusing melancholy trifle

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 13/2/2003 Thomas Laux
The NY Times Book Rev. . 8/2/2004 Tim Wilson
Publishers Weekly . 15/12/2003 .
Die Welt . 21/9/2002 Felix Müller

  From the Reviews:
  • "Der heute 33-jährige Laurent Graff versteht es eigentlich recht geschickt, die bittere Note des kleinen Romans mit Witz und eingestreuter Situationskomik zu konterkarieren. (...) Da die charakterliche Profilierung dieses Antihelden letztlich aber blass und er selbst hinter seinen anspruchsvollen Räsonnements zurückbleibt, dürfte die Sympathie des Lesers für ihn eher verhalten ausfallen." - Thomas Laux, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

  • "In this adept translation by Linda Coverdale, however, the collapse of Antoine's fatalism redeems the narrative." - Tim Wilson, The New York Times Book Review

  • "Graffs Roman Feierabend hätte eine Replik auf Michel Houllebecq werden können, und als solche ist sie auch gemeint. (...) Milde Humanität wäre nicht die schlechteste Antwort auf Houllebecq, aber bei Graff gerinnt sie zu ihrer Schrumpfform: Zur Rhetorik der Erbauungsliteratur." - Felix Müller, Die Welt

  • "Graff's static and articulate but inexplicable hero will inspire primarily the latter emotion in readers, with flashes of the former; moments of gorgeous prose leaven a sharp, dark and very French quasi-comedy about a man whose life revolves around death." - Publishers Weekly

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.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       Happy Days is narrated by Antoine, who already felt he'd experienced it all by the time he reached eighteen. He gave adult life a try -- he got a job, married, had kids -- but it wasn't really for him. A small inheritance then allowed him to do what he really wanted to do: retire. Age thirty-five, he checks himself into the Happy Days, a retirement home.
       His choice is not one of laziness, but rather personal philosophy: he doesn't much believe in life when, after all, death is all that can be expected from it. In this small novella he describes his life, then and now. Happy Days is the logical conclusion to his philosophy of life, and he's glad to be able to settle in there earlier than most. Always more a contemplative than active sort, he's almost perfectly content there, able to "kill time from day to day with the patience of a torturer."
       Antoine is fascinated by by the inevitable (he bought his grave and tombstone when he was eighteen, and tends to them carefully, replacing the plaque with the inscription that goes on the tombstone occasionally), and it's one of the things that draws him to the other residents. He claims: "I want to be free of all ties, emotionally blank", but that isn't always easy to accomplish. (He does quite well, though.)
       His life-choice is one big experiment:

My retirement in Happy Days should allow me to understand what an individual's life is, stripped of all diversions, seen in the light of its dénouement.
       But, of course, he can't strip it entirely of diversions, and the book describes many of the smaller and larger episodes at the home (though the unfortunate mix-up that led to retirees attending an Iggy Pop concert is only alluded to).
       A final chapter returns to the scene decades later, with only Antoine unchanged, a fitting conclusion for this story of a man who all his life has refused to live.
       Happy Days is well-written and often amusing, with a touch of poignancy, but without the melancholy atmosphere ever getting too heavy. Antoine is a believable oddball, his approach to (or rather: retreat from) life bizarre but convincing enough. Graff strikes the right tone throughout the book, and has crafted an enjoyable trifle.

- Return to top of the page -


Happy Days: Reviews: Other books by Laurent Graff under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of French literature at the complete review

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       French author Laurent Graff was born in 1968.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2005-2013 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links