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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Parachute

Sinclair Dumontais

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To purchase The Parachute

Title: The Parachute
Author: Sinclair Dumontais
Genre: Novel
Written: 2004 (Eng. 2005)
Length: 136 pages
Original in: French
Availability: The Parachute - US
The Parachute - UK
The Parachute - Canada
Le parachute de Socrate - Canada
Le parachute de Socrate - France
  • French title: Le parachute de Socrate
  • Translated by Patricia Claxton

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Our Assessment:

B- : modestly amusing consumer-society/corporate-culture satire

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Canadian Literature . Summer/2007 Beverley Haun
Quill & Quire . 11/2005 Stewart Cole

  From the Reviews:
  • "To be fair, much of the writing in Dumontais is concerned with the ravages to the planet as well as to people that result from the unchecked excesses of multinationals, and warranted attention is drawn to these excesses in an effort to raise awareness and to emphasize countermeasures. But much of the extra verbiage in Dumontais is just that, padding and digressions that fit the egotistical and long-winded persona of his protagonist, but should have been pruned in the editing process as a courtesy if not a convenience to the reader." - Beverley Haun, Canadian Literature

  • "Itís almost beside the point to note that this well-wrought translation of the pseudonymously published L'Empêcheur retains the wry, didactic quality of the original French, because any reader will readily discern that the novelís strengths and problems long precede the English version. (...) When The Parachute works, itís as non-fiction." - Stewart Cole, Quill & Quire

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:

       The Parachute is presented as a monologue, as a management consultant addresses the board of directors of a large footwear company and advises them how to prepare for the future. His report is unusual already in its delivery, as he insists no notes be taken (so they can concentrate on his words) while coming more or less empty-handed: he does not offer data, charts, graphs, speaking instead pretty much off the cuff. He also tells them that the preparations he made in putting together his report were unusual: instead of doing mountains of research he spent his time in Greece, where he: "set about an icy analysis of what civilisation has become and what it will be tomorrow."
       Dumontais' novel is very much a work of social criticism, as his protagonist paints a picture of a consumer culture gone insane (and suggests how to take advantage of that). It is, in fact, more or less one long diatribe -- but that's hard for a work of fiction to sustain. The management consultant is an intriguingly nutty fellow, but in excluding all others -- there are reactions and questions from the board, but they remain unheard; all the reader gets is how the narrator reacts to them -- the story is missing a vital counterweight. If Dumontais' satire were stronger, if the arguments his mouthpiece made were more convincing, then he might be able to get away with it; as is the ideas and arguments that are presented are amusing but so riddled with holes that the only conclusion one can draw is that Dumontais felt he had to present it all in this way because giving space to any counter-argument would have collapsed his house of cards.
       The idea he comes up with, of how the company can find success in the future, is reasonably amusing, but far from convincing, and with so much riding on that the book totters uneasily. At least when he goes beyond that, looking for a completely new society, there's a bit more bite to things, but on the whole the satire is far flimsier than it should be.
       Darker than the works of Max Barry, but nowhere near as sharp as, for example, Lydie Salvayre's The Award , The Parachute is barely successful.

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The Parachute: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Sinclair Dumontais is the pseudonym of a French-writing Canadian author.

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