Day: January 7, 2019

No excuses

gctv-no-excuses-1024x576

My apologies. I have no excuses for not being up-to-date on my notes of books read last year. I still have a few pending. I also expect to update soon my Books Read in 2018, the link to Georges Simenon’s Maigret Books, and the link to Poirot’s Novels and Short Stories. I’m looking forward to read this year some (new-to-me) authors like: Mick Herron and Harry Bingham, but I don’t want to talk much about my reading plans since I never comply them. In case it’s of your interest  I’m currently reading and enjoying: Greeks Bearing Gifts by Philip Kerr, my first book in the year. Stay tuned. Thank you for being there.

My Book Notes: Maigret’s Failure, 1956 (Inspector Maigret #49) by Georges Simenon (Translated by William Hobson)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Penguin, 2017. Format; Kindle Edition. File Size: 4140 KB. Print Length: 165 pages. ASIN:B073X95482. ISBN: 978-0-241-30380-1. A pre-original version appeared first serialised in the daily Le Figaro between 26 February and 4 March 1956 (20 episodes) as Un échec de Maigret. It was published in book form by Presses de la Cité in September 1956. The book was written between 26 February and 4 March 1956 at Golden Gate, Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes). It first came out in English translation in 1962 as Maigret’s Failure with six subsequent re-editions. Its translator was Daphne Woodward then, and the translator for this new Penguin edition in 2017 is William Hobson.

imageOpening paragraph: Joseph, the office boy, made the faintest of noises, barely that of a scurrying mouse, as he scratched at the door. Inching it open so that it didn’t creak, he then slipped so silently into Maigret’s office that, with the halo of white, almost translucent hair around his otherwise bald head, he might have been pretending to be a ghost.

Book description: When a self-made man appeals to Maigret for protection at his lavish home, a years-old grudge from the past resurfaces and the inspector finds himself questioning his own motives.

My take: One morning, at the request of his superiors, Maigret receives the visit of a certain Monsieur Fumal who wants to see him personally. Ferdinand Fumal, a prominent business man, is one of the main donors of the party in government. Fumal was the son of the butcher at Quante-Vents, a hamlet near the Saint-Fiacre chateau where Maigret had grew up. In the past, they had gone to school together, but they had never be friends and had never played together. In fact, Ferdinand Fumal had never played with anyone, spending all his breaks alone in a corner. Even though Fumal claims to be a man who doesn’t scare himself easily, he has received some anonymous letters in the last week, whose death threats he takes hismelf seriously. Their meeting turns out to be quite tense. It is evident Maigret still feels certain grudge towards Fumal, dated back to their times at Saint-Fiacre. But there is no point in arguing with a man that has done favours to interior minister and who can cause him serious problems. In view of this, Maigret agrees to send someone to watch his house from the outside, even if he doesn’t have clear yet what is exactly what Fumal is up to. What Maigret doesn’t understand is the nature of his visit, the aggressive way Fumal had behaved, or was it perhaps Maigret the one who started it? Then, shortly after lunch, Louise Bourges, Monsieur Fumal’s personal secretary, comes to visit Maigret and tells him that it was Fumal himself who has written the anonymous letters threatening him with death. Things take an unexpected turn, when the morning after, Fumal is found murdered in his room, by a shot at point-blank. Nobody have entered or left the house by the front door, but only then the police comes to know of the existence of a back door. It soon becomes obvious that, almost everyone in his household, had more than enough reasons to wish him death, with the only exception perhaps of his lover, who was going to lose her only source of income.

The following quote sums up fairly well in my view what this book is all about:

If there was anyone in Paris who had gained first-hand experience of life’s brutal realities, who had learned, day after day, how to discover the truth of appearances, it was him, and yet he had never entirely grown out of certain fantasies from his childhood and adolescence. Hadn’t he once said he would have liked to be a ‘mender of destinies’, such was his desire to restore people to their rightful places, the places they would have occupied if the world were a naïve, picture postcard version of itself?

Perhaps it might be enough to add that Maigret’s Failure is a rather atypical book in the series. Maybe for my taste, it is not among my favourites, but anyway it was an entertaining read and provides us some aspects of Maigret personality and of his childhood that were still unknown to us. Besides it contains two different investigations, it shows us some different Paris corners and a variety of well drawn characters.

Maigret’s Failure has been reviewed at Crime Review.

My rating: B (I liked it)

About the Author: Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed. He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. Two television series (1960-63 and 1992-93) have been made in Great Britain. During his “American” period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written. Simenon also wrote a large number of “psychological novels”, as well as several autobiographical works. (Source: Goodreads).

About the Translator: Former Contributing Editor at Granta Books, Will Hobson is a critic and translator from the French and German, whose translations include Viramma: A Pariah’s Life, Viramma (Verso); The Battle, Patrick Rambaud (Picador); Sans Moi, Marie Desplechin (Granta); Benares, Barlen Pyamootoo (Canongate); and The Dead Man in the Bunker, Martin Pollack (Faber). He writes for the Independent on Sunday, the Observer and Granta magazine, and translated Greenpeace’s presentation to the Pope before the Kyoto Summit into Latin. (Source: English Pen)

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page

Un échec de Maigret

Maigret of the Month: February, 2008

audible

Un fracaso de Maigret, de Georges Simenon

Párrafo inicial: Joseph, el botones, hizo el menor ruido posible, apenas el de un ratón corriendo, conforme arañaba la puerta. Abriéndola lentamente para que no chirriara, se deslizó tan silenciosamente en la oficina de Maigret que, debido a su halo de pelo blanco, casi translúcido alrededor de su cabeza por lo demás calva, podría haber simulado ser un fantasma.

Descripción del libro: Cuando un hombre hecho a sí mismo recurre a Maigret para que lo proteja en su fastuosa residencia, surge del pasado un resentimiento acumulado durante varios años y el comisario se sorprende poniendo en duda sus propios motivos.

Mi opinión: Una mañana, a petición de sus superiores, Maigret recibe la visita de un tal Monsieur Fumal que quiere verlo personalmente. Ferdinand Fumal, un destacado hombre de negocios, es uno de los principales donantes del partido en el gobierno. Fumal era el hijo del carnicero en Quante-Vents, una aldea cerca del castillo de Saint-Fiacre donde Maigret había crecido. En el pasado, habían ido a la escuela juntos, pero nunca habían sido amigos y nunca habían jugado juntos. De hecho, Ferdinand Fumal nunca había jugado con nadie, pasando todos sus recreos solo en un rincón. Aunque Fumal afirma ser un hombre que no se asusta fácilmente, la semana pasada recibió algunas cartas anónimas, cuyas amenazas de muerte se toma muy en serio. Su encuentro resulta bastante tenso. Es evidente que Maigret todavía siente cierto rencor hacia Fumal, que se remonta a sus tiempos en Saint-Fiacre. Pero no tiene sentido discutir con un hombre que le ha hecho favores al ministro del interior y que puede causarle serios problemas. En vista de esto, Maigret acepta enviar a alguien para que vigile su casa desde el exterior, incluso si no tiene claro todavía qué es exactamente lo que Fumal está tramando. Lo que Maigret no entiende es la naturaleza de su visita, la forma agresiva en que se había comportado Fumal, o ¿tal vez fue Maigret quien lo inició? Luego, poco después del almuerzo, Louise Bourges, la secretaria personal de Monsieur Fumal, visita a Maigret y le dice que fue el mismo Fumal quien escribió las cartas anónimas que lo amenazaban de muerte. Las cosas toman un giro inesperado, cuando a la mañana siguiente, Fumal es encontrado asesinado en su habitación, por un disparo a quemarropa. Nadie ha entrado o salido de la casa por la puerta principal, pero solo entonces la policía se entera de la existencia de una puerta trasera. Pronto se hace evidente que, casi todos en su hogar, tenían razones más que suficientes para desearle la muerte, con la única excepción quizás de su amante, que iba a perder su única fuente de ingresos.

La siguiente cita resume bastante bien en mi opinión de qué trata este libro:

Si había alguien en París que había adquirido experiencia de primera mano sobre las brutales realidades de la vida, que había aprendido, día tras día, cómo descubrir la verdad de las apariencias, era él, y sin embargo, nunca había superado por completo ciertas fantasías de su infancia y de su adolescencia. ¿No dijo una vez que le hubiera gustado ser un “reparador de destinos”, tal era su deseo de restaurar a las personas a sus legítimos sitios, aquellos lugares que habrían ocupado si el mundo fuera una ingenua imagen de postal de sí mismo?

Quizás podría ser suficiente agregar que Un fracaso de Maigret es un libro bastante atípico en la serie. Tal vez para mi gusto, no está entre mis favoritos, pero de todos modos fue una lectura entretenida y nos brinda algunos aspectos de la personalidad de Maigret y de su infancia que aún desconocíamos. Además, contiene dos investigaciones diferentes, nos muestra algunos rincones de París diferentes y una variedad de personajes bien dibujados.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó)

Sobre el autor: Simenon fue uno de los escritores más prolíficos del siglo XX, capaz de escribir de 60 a 80 páginas al día. Su obra incluye cerca de 200 novelas, más de 150 novelas, varias obras autobiográficas, numerosos artículos y decenas de novelas populares escritas con más de dos docenas de seudónimos. En total, se han hecho unos 550 millones de copias de sus obras. Sin embargo, es más conocido por sus 75 novelas y 28 relatos cortos portagonizados por el comisario Maigret. La primera novela de la serie, Pietr-le-Letton, apareció en 1931; La última, Maigret et M. Charles, se publicó en 1972. Las novelas de Maigret se tradujeron a todos los idiomas principales y varias de ellas se convirtieron en películas y obras radiofónicas. Dos series de televisión (1960-63 y 1992-93) se hicieron en Gran Bretaña. Durante su período “americano”, Simenon alcanzó la cima de su creatividad, y varias novelas de esa época se inspiraron en el contexto en el que fueron escritas. Simenon también escribió una gran cantidad de “novelas psicológicas”, así como varias obras autobiográficas. (Fuente: Goodreads).