I WISH SOMEONE WERE WAITING FOR ME SOMEWHERE

Anna Gavalda, Author, Karen L. Marker, Translator , trans. from the French by Karen L. Marker. Riverhead $13 (193p) ISBN 978-1-57322-355-3

Unabashed materialism is tempered by dry wit in this collection of 12 jaunty short stories about heartache and love by a young prize-winning French writer. The first-person narrators speak directly to the reader: "So anyway, as I was saying," "I'm not saying that to be a smartass" and even "Hmpphh, whatever." This playfulness often masks hurt: protagonists range from a female veterinarian who is gang-raped by drunken farmers to a pop singer isolated by fame and drugs, to a traveling salesman who plays a role in a terrible traffic accident. The collection's shorter stories are slight; nothing much happens, or problems raised are shrugged off without any attempt at resolution. The book's gems, on the other hand, delight by adding action to the mix. In "Junior," two boys borrow dad's Jaguar, with disastrous results; in "Clic-Clac" two sisters help their brother jump-start a love affair with a delectable colleague. If love is one recurring theme, another is class, particularly the distinction between middle and upper classes in French society. In "This Man and This Woman," a couple's loveless marriage is equated with their predictable taste in clothing and furnishings: "It's all kind of nouveau riche, but fortunately they don't realize it." Deftly translated by Marker, this uneven but entertaining collection displays a deliciously Gallic insouciance. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/26/2004
Release date: 12/01/2003
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-7865-6193-3
Open Ebook - 978-0-7865-6192-6
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-09-950601-0
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-101-21564-7
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