Samuel Perlman, the elderly narrator of Yasmina Reza’s deliriously dyspeptic novel, is surrounded by happy people. His wife Nancy is thrilled to be a member of the human race. His grown son is content crisscrossing the world to “sample exotic fruit with the savages.” But Samuel himself refuses to be happy and his attempt to explain his refusal (half to his son and half to himself) generates an epic, blasphemous, and hilarious rant against the compromises of his life.
Whether he is recounting his pal Lionel’s heroic battle against impotence; lamenting the loss of his great love, the irresistible Marisa Botton; or pondering the possibility of a new love in the person of one Genevieve Abramowitz, the droll, irascible Perlman is one of the great talkers of contemporary fiction. And Desolation is one of the most dazzling performances ever written for one voice.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Desolation|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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The word is, you have a good gardener. People say to me, You have a good gardener! What gardener?! A laborer, a workman. He carries things out. You, you do the thinking. Him, he pushes the wheelbarrow and he carries things out. Everything–I've done everything in the garden. People congratulate Nancy on the flowers. I decide on the color scheme and the plants, I site them, I buy the seeds, I buy the bulbs, and her, what does she do?–it gives her an activity, you'll tell me–she plants them. People congratulate her. That's life. The celebration of the superfluous.
I'd like you to explain the word happy.–
On Sundays I talk about you with your sister, because I talk about you. You, you think I don't talk about you, but I do talk about you. She tells me, He's happy.
Happy? The other day, at Ren? Fortuny's, some idiot said, "Surely the purpose of life is to be happy." On the way home in the car I said to Nancy, "Did you ever hear anything so banal?" To which Nancy's sub- tle response was, "So what should it be, according to you?" For her, happiness is legitimate, you know. She's one of those people who think happiness is legitimate.
Do you know her latest accusation? I had a new roller blind made for the laundry room. You know how much the guy wanted to charge me to install the Japanese shade I could buy readymade in any supermarket? Two hundred twenty dollars. I object. I'm not looking to get robbed, you know. Finally, the guy, who's a robber, knocks off $40. You know what upsets her? That I spent a hour and a half getting him down $40. Her argument? You reckon you're worth $40 an hour. Trying to make me mad. A...