Sunday, 13 July 2008

Review: "Class Trip" (Classe de neige) by Emmanuel Carrère

After reading the excellent "I Am Alive and You Are Dead" a while ago, I promised myself to track down other books by Emmanuel Carrère. On a recent trip to Paris, I did just that, picking up translations of "Class Trip" and "The Moustache" (likely the next book I'll read).

In "Class Trip", we see inside the mind of and look out from the eyes of Nicholas, a troubled boy, an outcast, on the cusp of adolescence, whose morbid fantasies give him comfort even as they begin to come true. We as adults understand many of the things that are mysteries to young Nicholas, which does not soften our own horror at detecting some of the hard truths that seem on the verge of being revealed to him throughout the book.

The book is simultaneously accessible and dense. The words flow by, the sense of Nicholas' internal struggles are astonishingly well rendered. At the same time, there are things unsaid that challenge the reader to keep track of the full range of possibilities, evaluating each new development in the light of what may or may not be the truth behind Nicholas' overheard whispers and imaginings.

I suspect that this is not only a good, but a great book, and look forward to reading it again fresh after a few months.

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