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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Original" just doesn't begin to describe this one...
If you haven't read Marie Darrieussecq's "Pig Tales" yet, then do. This darkly surreal novel relating the gradual transformation of a glamorous young masseuse into a pig while living in a futuristic horror-Paris is, unlikely though it may sound, a stunner. Dark, unsettling, occasionally stomach-churning: well, yes, all of those - but also wildly funny and madly,...
Published on 13 Jan. 2005 by Dr. Kenneth W. Douglas

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3.0 out of 5 stars Shock, Horror!! Woman turns into a pig and back again.
Marie Darrieussecq’s debut novella appeared in 1996 when the author was 27. According to Wikipaedia, it was accepted within 24 hours, sold more than 300,000 copies and was subsequently translated into more than 30 languages. This English translation is by Linda Coverdale. Comparisons with Kafka and Orwell are obvious in this surrealist fantasy, subtitled ‘A...
Published 1 month ago by Dr R


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Original" just doesn't begin to describe this one..., 13 Jan. 2005
If you haven't read Marie Darrieussecq's "Pig Tales" yet, then do. This darkly surreal novel relating the gradual transformation of a glamorous young masseuse into a pig while living in a futuristic horror-Paris is, unlikely though it may sound, a stunner. Dark, unsettling, occasionally stomach-churning: well, yes, all of those - but also wildly funny and madly, extraordinarily inventive.
It has predictably been compared with Kafka and Le Fontaine, but one of the early reviewers (in "Vogue") also mentioned Voltaire's "Candide", and for me this is spot-on. Like Voltaire's masterpiece, Darrieussecq's novel features a central character who is very much an innocent abroad in a world gone mad. There is the same oddly compelling combination of cynicism, scathing political satire and occasional moments of profound human (or porcine) sympathy. And, as in "Candide", the reader is always acutely aware of the fine line between laughter and screaming.
The book is capable of many different readings - its various targets include the beauty industry (more specifically, what Naomi Wolf has called "the Beauty Myth"); capitalist consumerism; tabloid television and "dumbing down"; intense farming methods; political correctness (consider the terrifying storm-troopers of the "Society for the Protection of Animals")...the list is almost endless. However, there is a lot more here than just satire. Darrieussecq's story has a life of its own - the reader really starts to care deeply about her piggy heroine - and there is always the pleasure of her disturbingly sensual prose (and Linda Coverdale's admirable translation): "It smelled wonderfully of last autumn's dead leaves and broke up into small, brittle clumps scented with moss, acorns, mushrooms. I dug, I scrabbled - that odour was like the whole planet entering my body, conjuring up in me seasons, flights of wild geese, snowdrops, fruits, the south wind".
Strong meat, certainly, but this is a deliciously decadent read - don't miss out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What you really want to know, 23 April 2010
I could fill this review with comparisons with Voltaire and Kafka and I acknowledge those who do so elsewhere. However, it must be mentioned - and it is surely significant that few have - that to people of a 'certain persuasion' this excellent story can also be extremely erotic, if not a little disconcerting. I loved it - that says much about me I realise - and I gave it to my wife to read and she was both fascinated and appalled in equal measure. It is that type of book.

If you like the 'Story of O' and can see the book works on several levels then I can highly recommend it. Be aware though there are those who will find the subject matter little short of obscene. Whatever your tastes though, I guarantee you won't ever forget it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Shock, Horror!! Woman turns into a pig and back again., 15 Mar. 2015
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Marie Darrieussecq’s debut novella appeared in 1996 when the author was 27. According to Wikipaedia, it was accepted within 24 hours, sold more than 300,000 copies and was subsequently translated into more than 30 languages. This English translation is by Linda Coverdale. Comparisons with Kafka and Orwell are obvious in this surrealist fantasy, subtitled ‘A Novel of Lust and Transformation’.

Set in Paris after the Millenium, the narrator is a part-time perfume employee/masseuse, offering wide-ranging and much appreciated ‘extended services’, who is transformed, incrementally into a pig that her clients cannot resist. She revels in their attention and so is able to save up enough money for a new dress. Her transition to her animal state has its social and psychological consequences even before she encounters a werewolf lover.

Since the military are on the look out for this rather strange couple, especially at the time of a full moon, they solve their dietary requirements by sending out for pizza. She eats the pie and its box, her partner the deliveryman. Particularly mouthwatering were the ones delivered by American émigrés who had fled following an unspecified disaster in Los Angeles. The werewolf found the latter ‘nice and fat, with just the slightest aftertaste of Coca-Cola. Perhaps it's class snobbery, but [he] always enjoyed junk food.’

Given that the book addresses prostitution and sexual excess, female exploitation and the kind of eating habits favoured by werewolves [and pigs], this story will not appeal to many readers. However, its language never descends lewdness. IHowever, its flights of ironic fancy are somehat obscured by its stream of consciousness narrative that is set out in single paragraphs that extend throughout the book.

The author handles the various transitions from woman to pig and back again marvelously, as well as could be achieved today with Computer Generated Animation. At first she puts on weight, becomes pinker, and has narrowing eyes and a corkscrewing tail; whilst she becomes nauseous at the thought of eating ham and sausages, fresh vegetables, whole apples, uncooked and unpeeled potatoes, chestnuts and truffels delight her.

The author skewers the hypocrisy of Far-Right politicians and their xenophobic political movements, and the public’s acceptance of both, as well as attacking hypocritical and felonious priests, psychiatrists and doctors. The book would mean more to a reader familiar with the French political situation in the mid-1990s, with its political leader, called ‘Edgar’, not a million miles from Jean-Marie Le Pen. Having said that, the book may resonate even more against the background of the current French politics.

The unnamed narrator’s attitude to life is benign despite the situations in which she finds herself. Unfortunately there does not seem to be sufficient mileage in this intriguing idea to spin out to a novella and some of the situations are repeated too many times [for obvious reasons I will not repeat the comment of one reviewer that the book ‘gets stuck in the mud’].

The difficulty with this translation is that the reversible woman/pig transition is not reflected in the language of the character and this significantly reduces the impact of the contrast that lies at the heart of the book. Ultimately this is a slight book that operates at many levels without really engaging the reader at any, 6/10. It was, however, a debut and I will seek out the author’s later books.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Original" just doesn't begin to describe this one..., 13 Jan. 2005
If you haven't read Marie Darrieussecq's "Pig Tales" yet, then do. This darkly surreal novel relating the gradual transformation of a glamorous young masseuse into a pig while living in a futuristic horror-Paris is, unlikely though it may sound, a stunner. Dark, unsettling, occasionally stomach-churning: well, yes, all of those - but also wildly funny and madly, extraordinarily inventive.
It has predictably been compared with Kafka and Le Fontaine, but one of the early reviewers (in "Vogue") also mentioned Voltaire's "Candide", and for me this is spot-on. Like Voltaire's masterpiece, Darrieussecq's novel features a central character who is very much an innocent abroad in a world gone mad. There is the same oddly compelling combination of cynicism, scathing political satire and occasional moments of profound human (or porcine) sympathy. And, as in "Candide", the reader is always acutely aware of the fine line between laughter and screaming.
The book is capable of many different readings - its various targets include the beauty industry (more specifically, what Naomi Wolf has called "the Beauty Myth"); capitalist consumerism; tabloid television and "dumbing down"; intense farming methods; political correctness (consider the terrifying storm-troopers of the "Society for the Protection of Animals")...the list is almost endless. However, there is a lot more here than just satire. Darrieussecq's story has a life of its own - the reader really starts to care deeply about her piggy heroine - and there is always the pleasure of her disturbingly sensual prose (and Linda Coverdale's admirable translation): "It smelled wonderfully of last autumn's dead leaves and broke up into small, brittle clumps scented with moss, acorns, mushrooms. I dug, I scrabbled - that odour was like the whole planet entering my body, conjuring up in me seasons, flights of wild geese, snowdrops, fruits, the south wind".
Strong meat, certainly, but this is a deliciously decadent read - don't miss out.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sensual young woman's account of metamorphosing into a pig, 15 Nov. 2001
this brilliantly written, lyrical, matter of fact story is compelling: grotesque, fantasical, yet striking a chord. It is every womans nightmare on seeing her own reflection in a shop window. the style smacks of the hero of the obscure, metamorphosis, Albert Camus. Superbly indulgent!
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps it's just a difference of culture..., 12 Jan. 2004
By A Customer
A good - French - friend lent me this book, assuring me that it was wonderful, and a huge bestseller in France.
Yes, it's quite well-written and insightful. But that doesn't mean it's enjoyable.
Personally I thought it was a grotesque and uncomfortable read. I couldn't find any merit in reading it, except that it's mercifully short.
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Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation
Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation by Marie Darrieussecq (Hardcover - 7 July 1997)
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