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Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation Paperback – 31 Mar 1998

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Paperback, 31 Mar 1998
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New edition edition (31 Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057119480X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571194803
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.9 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,120,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Marie Darrieussecq is the author of several novels, including "Pig Tales" and "My Phantom Husband" (The New Press). She was awarded the prestigious Prix Medicis in 2013. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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