cover image The Rules of the Game

The Rules of the Game

Georges Simenon, Geroges Simenon. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $18.95 (154pp) ISBN 978-0-15-169475-4

Curtis's translation from Simenon's novel is merely competent, yet readers will feel the impact of the French original, published in 1955. The story was obviously inspired by the gifted author's temporary residence in a Connecticut town, here called Williamson. As described in spare, poetic passages, events concern the manager of the local supermarket, Walter Higgins. A caring husband and father, proud of his family and the status he has achieved after a deprived childhood in a New Jersey slum, Higgins happily anticipates joining the country club. When the committee blackballs him, the snub is a terrible blow. Higgins's wife and their children give him loving support but he becomes obsessed by thoughts of revenge against those who play a game with secret rules against those who ``don't count.'' At this critical time, an emergency takes Higgins to his old neighborhood and the novel to a dramatically different turn. Simenon's pitiless observations of snobbish cruelty and his compassion for outcasts provoke thoughts of the pecking order that exists in communities everywhere. (Nov.)