Mammals Cover


By Pierre Merot; Frank Wynne (Translator)

Grove Press, Black Cat, Paperback, 9780802170194, 208pp.

Publication Date: April 1, 2006


One of the most internationally noteworthy titles from Europe in recent years, Mammals is a witty anatomization of modern life. Caustic, comic, and unflinchingly honest, Mammals is a cruel but beautiful tale of love, solitude, alcoholism, family, and unemployment. This fictional memoir of a glorious loser recounts the life of the Uncle, an unhappy Parisian bachelor whose only true loves were a Polish girl and a divorcee. He is a drunk; he is sarcastic; he works and fails desultorily in several fields until he winds up surrounded by neurotic women, a teacher in a secondary school. He tries out therapist after therapist and can't figure out who is the butt of the joke. He has nephews and this makes him nervous. In fact, almost everything about family life makes him nervous — especially now that he's living at home again. He coins proverbs for living with lowered expectations and attempts a bestiary of his pathological parents, the mammals of the title.

Riding its handbasket merrily to hell, veering now and then toward overwhelming lyricism, Mammals pieces together the portrait of modern society's Everyman. It establishes Pierre Merot as an extraordinary and delightful voice of international stature.