“The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman” by Denis Thériault

I read too much into things.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way I can start this review by saying that the circumstances that brought us together were quite… different. You see, I had just sent in yet another draft of my thesis to my advisors the night before and I felt the need to buy myself a book to celebrate. Sadly, the mall closest to my place doesn’t really have a bookshop, but there is indeed a store that sells books, amongst other things. I was there for hours. I am not even kidding. I went through all the Portuguese shelves, the English ones, I even found myself at the French ones (that would have been extremely interesting). I couldn’t find anything. I was starting to feel slightly distressed when I noticed that I needed to tie my shoelaces or else I would end up lying on the floor. That was when I saw it. A tiny book in the middle of bible-sized twins. What made me reach for it was the title, “The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman”.

I reached for it, I read the back cover and then, as I looked through its pages, I somehow found myself reading an interview with the author where he was compared to Haruki Murakami and Julian Barnes. Sold!

Yes, peculiar is ironically the word I believe best describes this book. I guess that’s where the connection to Murakami comes from, as their writing style is not, in my humble opinion, at all similar. The atmosphere? Perhaps so. Still, Denis Thériault is Denis Thériault and Haruki Murakami is Haruki Murakami – of that there is no doubt!

A lonely postman living vicariously through other people’s correspondence. The probability of this happening would sound much scarier had we not started exchanging more emails than actual letters. It all sounds a bit surrealistic, but then again, how could it not? It’s populated by haiku, by tanka… all the culture references that surround the topic help create quite an atmosphere that seems to ascend into higher and deeper meanings.

I found the writing style to be rather enchanting. I think I have the author and the wonderful translator (according to the author she is indeed brilliant) to blame for the fact that I was too busy savoring the way the story was being told to actually contemplate judging Bilodo. Perhaps that was the point? He too got somehow lost in the middle of all those letters, all those words written in what was for him, at first, an extremely peculiar way.

At the end there was the interview in which the author also mentioned a sequel of sorts. I must go look into it. I confess I am rather curious. It did kill the cat, Bilodo…


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