Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Eat Him if You Like-Jean Teulé

Eat Him if You Like
Jean Teulé, Emily Phillips (translator)
Gallic, Oct 14 2014, $12.95
ISBN 9781906040390

In 1870, Beaussac, France Deputy Mayor Alain de Monéys soon will join the French army at the not so quiet eastern front in the war with Prussia.  However, today he plans to enjoy the day in spite of the unbearable August heat and the relentless drought.  Thus Alain rides his horse towards the Saint-Roch Fair in Hautefaye.  

He comes across his arrogant cousin Camille de Maillard, who mocks the Emperor and the Minister of War for their claim Berlin soon will fall as he points to the recent massacre loss at Reichsoffen and the need to retreat.  Someone in the angry patriotic crowd replies no retreat as the Prussians will fall just like the Austrians in Italy and the Russian in Crimea before.  As the crowd grows increasingly hostile accusing Camille of being a Prussian sympathizer, Alain intervenes explaining his cousin’s comment but terribly misconstrued.  Suddenly Alain’s friends and neighbors who he just exchanged salutations with pummel him before burning and eating him while the authorities fail to intervene.

Based on a real event that seems surreal, Eat Him if You Like is a cautionary historical novella that hooks the audience with how quickly a group of friends turn into vicious out of control monsters.  Mindful of Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s classic The Ox-Bow Incident with its thoughtful yet exciting look into the mob mentality when civil society breaks down.  This is not an easy read as friends and neighbors not only batter and lynch the victim, they roast and eat him.

Harriet Klausner

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