cover image The Man in a Hurry

The Man in a Hurry

Paul Morand, trans. from the French by Euan Cameron. Pushkin (, $24 (384p) ISBN 978-1-78227-097-3

The reputation of Morand—a French modernist on the scale of Proust and Celine—has suffered as the result of the author’s collaboration with the Nazi Party in Vichy France, yet Pushkin Press’s gorgeous new edition of Morand’s masterpiece, written in 1941, is a shockingly clever farce. Pierre Niox is an antiques dealer who suffers from a curious affliction: he insists on doing everything quickly, which puts him at odds with other human beings. Haste isn’t just Niox’s cardinal virtue, it is his lifestyle; he lives “quickly and badly,” turns up at the death beds of the wealthy just in time to swindle them, and treats patience as a foreign concept. With no time for friends, Niox seems destined for the exclusive company of the strange artifacts with which he surrounds himself. Then he falls in love—suddenly, of course—with Hewige de Boisrosé and is forced to decide if any woman is worth waiting for. As marriage, pregnancy, and family drama ensue, Niox realizes he may be too quick for the modern world. And yet he is equally sure that, if he slows down, even for a moment, he will die or, worse, miss a new opportunity. This is a strange book, written in prose as speedy as its impossible hero, and Morand deserves to be widely revisited both for the ageless appeal of his style and the specific (sometimes worrying) portrait of human nature at war with 1940s modernity. (Sept.)