Pascal Garnier; Melanie Florence (translator)
Gallic Books, Apr 7 2015, $12.95
By 1976 long time rail worker Bernard knows he is dying. He regrets what could have been with his friend Jacqueline, married to an abusive husband, if he romantically courted her instead of remaining loyally protective of his lunatic sister Yolande. Still old habits has Bernard worrying about what will happen to crazy Yolande when he dies; as she still believes WWII is still going on and has not left their Picardy cluttered cottage they reside in since 1945 when their neighbors vilified her for being a Nazi collaborator.
However, Bernard loses what is left of his hold on sanity when construction of the A26 motorway comes to Picardy. To rectify the latest modernization encroachment that symbolizes to Bernard the end of his life, he begins killing people.
The latest Gallic translation of a Pascal Garnier suspenseful French middle class tragedy (see The Front Seat Passenger, Moon in a Dead Eye, The Panda Theory and How’s the Pain?) is another character-driven dark surrealistic novella. Though written in 1999, The A76 is very timely as the reclusive siblings reject change like the roadway and his illness as unacceptable while demanding society takes back a France created in their respective images.