Peeters’ Pachyderme

17 11 2009

From my recent review of Frédérik Peeters’ Pachyderme:

Let’s see… in the breathless opening to this 90 page graphic novel we get a traffic jam due to a wounded elephant; a blind pigkeeper; a gray hydrocephalic baby—vaguely alien-looking—in the woods; a cavalier and alcoholic skirt-chasing surgeon; and a beanpole of a Swiss secret policeman, complete with trenchcoat, stovepipe hat, and prosthetic proboscis, who like Get Smart’s Agent 13 turns up in the unlikeliest of places. A woman—our heroine Carice—walks though it all—from her car through the woods, as if in a trance, to a hospital to visit her diplomat husband, indisposed from an auto accident. Her goodbye note, which she intends to deliver in person, is in her purse. The hospital is vast, remote, and forbidding, filled with suitable loonies. Among those Carice meets in the lobby are a paraplegic who offers to help hide her if she’s a Jew, and an orderly who insists she’s come for the annual show patients put on. The secret policeman insists she see the Don Juan of a doctor before her husband, because the former has a file that should be in the latter’s hands: a file valuable to the Soviets, detailing activities of the Red Cross. The book’s first third ends with Carice waking an apparently dead body in the morgue with her whistling. Chopin? the body asks. Carice nods. We learn of her too-early marriage, her dashed dreams as a concert pianist, and in the course of conversation realize that the aged cadaver she’s talking to is her future self.

Read the rest at Absinthe Minded!

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