France

READ THE WORLD – France: The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Guylain Vignolles lives a dull life and barely interacts with anything. His job at a book-pulping factory leaves him feeling empty and feeling sick. But each day, sitting on the 6.27 train each day to go to a job he hates, he reads aloud to fellow passenger’s scraps of pages he’s saved from the pulping machine. It is his one pleasure in life. But when Guylain discovers a dairy belonging to a woman named Julie – a woman who appears to feel as lost in the world as he does – Guylain feels inspired to try and find her.

I found The Reader on the 6.27 quite a slow read for the first half of the book but then sped through the last 100 pages. I think it’s because the book is kind of split in two – before Guylain has read Julie’s diary and after. Before, he lives a life where he’s very apathetic towards everything, he hates his job and doesn’t have anyone except his goldfish – he, much like his life, was a bit boring. Once he reads Julie’s diary it’s like he has a new lease of life. He becomes more motivated and, to me, a lot more interesting.

The Reader on the 6.27 has moments of pretty dark humour which was a surprise, especially as the book is from Guylain’s perspective and he doesn’t really come across as a witty or humorous guy. The description of the book-pulping factory is very vivid and often quite disgusting. There’s mentions of rats that have got squished in the book-pulping machines teeth and the machine does seem to be its own ominous character. It feels like a real threat not only to Guylain’s safety but to his sanity as well.

The Reader on the 6.27 is a short book and is well-written but it’s not a story that will stay with me, especially as for most of the book the main character was impassive and bland. Though I do realise Guylain’s boringness was probably intended as it was clear there was a marked difference in him not only when he read Julie’s diary, but when he started to socialise with people in general. Still, it was too little too late for me.

Advertisements