A BOOK REVIEW – DIARY OF A BODY by DANIEL PENNAC
I’ve read a couple of translated books recently. Having elected to only review books that have given me pleasure, I’m only mentioning one of them here. Quite possibly my problem with the other one is actually, well, MY problem, and not the book’s.
So that leaves us with this, Diary Of A Body. Written as a diary over the life span of French author, Daniel Pennac, and translated into an adorable, quirky, compelling English language read by Alyson Waters.
The unusual cover, the teasing title, the little English Pen Award sticker, they all contributed to me thinking “mmmm?” as my hand tentatively slid the lightweight paperback from the shelf. (We took several books on holiday, between my wonderful wife and I, only one of us took a hearty hard back……that suitcase was slightly overweight.)
I was right to take a chance. Pennac was a French author who kept an occasional, rather quirky diary. Having been humiliated, by his own mother, in front of a mirror as a child, he set about charting his body’s sensations. Tearing a muscular – skeletal diagram from an encyclopaedia, he pinned this ‘perfect’ physique next to the offending mirror. A quest to attain similar had begun.
Told with a light touch, but exhibiting cringe worthy honesty, the book delivers a friend. Through adolescence, all those moments we never discuss, are, erm, DISCUSSED – yes there’s not a lot left to the imagination as Pennac narrates his body being dumped into adulthood.
Pennac left instructions for his daughter, who only became aware of the diary’s existence upon the death of her father, to do with the documents as she saw fit.
That these posthumous communications are included here only adds to the homely feel of the overall prose. There are gaps (mostly due to active resistance servitude) but somehow, they feel to be correctly placed.
Into retirement, and beyond to old age, frailty and terminal illness, there can only ever be one outcome. Taken right up to his dying days, it would be a truly cold heart that didn’t openly weep (both with sadness and joy) as the last few, bleary eyed pages are softly consumed.
So, if you’re looking for a not-too-hefty, genre defying, heartfelt, cosy read and want to, like Idid, delve a little deeper into the literary world, this could well be for you.
Don’t forget, I’ve got other writings over at the OTHER BLOG (when time has permitted). If anybody would like to keep in more regular touch, they can in the comments box here, via firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by waving to me enthusiastically in the street.
I’m always looking for opportunities to write, and have a regular column in the lovely online running magazine RUN DEEP.
Right, I’m publishing this at 7.15pm on Christmas Eve…… I’m not expecting a massive readership but to those who are reading it ‘live’…. MERRY CHRISTMAS