The Pigeon

Moar Süskind

 You’ve had it! You’re too old and you’ve had it, letting yourself be frightened to death by a pigeon…

A pretty short novella, The Pigeon is the story of Jonathan Noel, a meticulously organised, largely friendless and introverted security guard who has worked the same job, standing on the same three steps of the same bank for decades. This book is extremely Kafkaesque in its approach; Jonathan’s life is turned upside down when contrary to any of his preconceptions he is startled to find a pigeon sat in the hallway of his apartment building. When the line between reality and surreality (sic) is blurred in the context of almost painfully everyday, nondescript life is something that always interests me. This book achieves that in our protagonist’s almost hysterical response to the appearance of this bird. It also managed the same thing that Camus’ The Outsider did for me, which was encapsulate a quintessentially Parisian/French approach to everyday life (and in particular food). Obviously the main merits of this book however lie in the way it manages to extrapolate the significance of seemingly insignificant moments of disorder in the life of Jonathan; and show us how precariously close we perhaps all teeter toward the edge of sanity, cushioned and numbed as we our by our own habitual lives and firmly held beliefs in the perceived natural order of everyday existence. Jonathan Noel’s existential terror and blind panic in the face of his disrupted routine could quite easily be our own.

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