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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Moon in a Dead Eye

Pascal Garnier

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To purchase Moon in a Dead Eye

Title: Moon in a Dead Eye
Author: Pascal Garnier
Genre: Novel
Written: 2009 (Eng. 2013)
Length: 127 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Moon in a Dead Eye - US
Moon in a Dead Eye - UK
Moon in a Dead Eye - Canada
Lune captive dans un œil mort - Canada
Moon in a Dead Eye - India
Lune captive dans un œil mort - France
  • French title: Lune captive dans un œil mort
  • Translated by Emily Boyce

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Our Assessment:

B+ : nicely unsettling in its progression

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Independent . 17/8/2013 Brandon Robshaw
The NY Rev. of Books . 9/4/2020 John Banville
The NY Times Book Rev. . 17/8/2014 Marilyn Stasio
Publishers Weekly . 23/6/2013 .
Sunday Times . 28/7/2013 David Mills
TLS . 30/8/2013 Lauren Elkin

  From the Reviews:
  • "The atmosphere gets stranger and bleaker -- each chapter contains some startling revelation. The final descent into violence is worthy of J G Ballard." - Brandon Robshaw, The Independent

  • "Moon in a Dead Eye, translated by Emily Boyce and written in the absurdist manner of Jean Anouilh, is a takedown of the haughty residents of an exclusive retirement community." - Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

  • "Garnierís sly, cynical take on life after retirement will strike a chord with readers of every age" - 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.

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The complete review's Review:

       Moon in a Dead Eye is set almost entirely in the brand new retirement village of Les Conviviales, a gated community promising a safe, convivial little world of its own, with care-taker, clubhouse, a solar-heated swimming pool, closed-circuit television for protection, and year-round sunshine. Yeah, right.
       Martial and Odette are the first to sign on and move in, staking their place in this community with some fifty houses, joining Monsieur Flesh, the caretaker, settling in there and waiting for the place to fill up.
       It's raining when the novel opens, and while it's only a small, temporary inconvenience when the passing storm renders the front gate unopenable (it can't be opened manually, "for security" ...) it's more than just symbolic.
       Yes, more residents move in: another retired couple, Marlène and Maxime, and then a single woman, Léa (her presence courtesy of her deceased lover, a parting "bizarre gift"). There's also Nadine, hired to run the clubhouse -- which means organizing activities once a week. But overall Les Conviviales appears to be a hard sell; the place does not come to life, its few residents having the run of the place.
       In short chapters Garnier describes the mundane lives of those there. Not much happens at first, but he has a nice, easy-going style that captures the small quirks of daily life well, and the social interaction in this mismatched small group. And, chapter by chapter, in quick succession, bigger personal quirks and bits of background add to the story, creating a sense of unease and increasing tension.
       The oddities that add up are, at first, fairly small -- such as a fly that Odette is convinced buzzes irritatingly around her -- but shift the picture from one of everyday normality to an unsettling world where everyone is slightly off-balance (if not outright unbalanced). Eventually, one character gets out his gun, and there's little doubt that it will be fired (repeatedly ...).
       There's a menace outside too -- supposedly, possibly. As they do every year at the same time, gypsies are apparently settling at an intersection nearby. The women are warned not to venture by on their own. Les Conviviales comes to feel more like a fortress or sanctum -- except that the inmates (as they increasingly resemble) are running the asylum. And, of course, it turns out that the menace might be closer to home than imagined.
       Moon in a Dead Eye has the community collapse -- teetering for a while, but somehow under the illusion that it can carry on -- with breathtaking speed when it comes to that. The center truly cannot hold -- though Garnier heaps on even more than is necessary in the novel's somewhat over-the-top climax (this in a novel where the unusual title proves more uncomfortably literal than readers are likely to have imagined possible).
       Garnier excels at tone and pacing, and in how he unfolds his stories. His characters' peculiarities don't seem, at first, particularly out of the ordinary; mostly they seem the sort of baggage and burdens that anyone could be carrying along. And yet .....
       There's perhaps a bit much here that he's juggling -- there's no lead figure here to focus on, just a mutually supporting cast -- and the concluding conflagration seems a bit much, too, but it's still good unsettling fun.

- M.A.Orthofer, 11 August 2014

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Moon in a Dead Eye: Reviews: Other books by Pascal Garnier under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Pascal Garnier lived 1949 to 2010.

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© 2014-2021 the complete review

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