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Happy Days [Paperback]

Laurent Graff


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Book Description

Dec 19 2003
What kind of man buys his grave at the age of eighteen and chooses to spend the rest of his life in a rest home at thirty-five? Meet Antoine, the curious hero of Laurent Graff's Happy Days, an odd young man who somewhat prematurely acquiesces to his terminal destiny. The ultimate fatalist, Antoine decides to play hooky from life at the Happy Days rest home. Despite the pronounced difference in age, he is accepted by the residents and quickly settles into a routine. He leads a peaceful and uneventful life there until the arrival of a dying woman with whom he forms a unique bond and goes on a very special journey. This darkly funny novel — the first of Graff's to be published in English — was awarded the Prix Millepages 2002.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf (Dec 19 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786712821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786712823
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 11.7 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 118 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,784,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

"I wanted to let myself drift gently on the surface of life, floating on my back until I wound up flat on my back six feet under." So reveals the narrator of this curious, rather cold little novella, a winner of the Prix Millepages and Graff's first book to be published in English. At 35, in perfect health, Antoine decides to spend the rest of his life at the Happy Days retirement home. Although he admits to having little taste for life and a certain "tendency to get a head start on the inevitable" (at 18, he bought his cemetery plot), Antoine's premature forfeiture of normal existence is a philosophical experiment, an "attempt to understand what an individual's life is, stripped of all its diversions, seen in the light of its denouement." When Mireille, a new resident with terminal cancer, arrives to spend her final days, Antoine-who has heretofore shuffled along, attending physical therapy, participating in group outings, befriending eccentric aging residents and occasionally sleeping with nurses-has his chance "to understand the extinction of life." Mireille accepts his attentions calmly, as long as he grants her final wish to visit the seashore. The two sneak away, and their journey sparks a mix of tenderness and frustration in both. Graff's static and articulate but inexplicable hero will inspire primarily the latter emotion in readers, with flashes of the former; moments of gorgeous prose leaven a sharp, dark and very French quasi-comedy about a man whose life revolves around death.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

At 18, when his peers are buying cars, Antoine withdraws his savings to buy a cemetery plot. At 35, he leaves his wife of 12 years and two children and uses an unexpected inheritance to move permanently to the Happy Days, a private retirement home, where he keeps up with "The Young and the Restless" in order to explain it to his fellow residents and finds sex with a nurse his placebo. He's neither "skipping life" nor "killing time"; he's simply devoting himself to trying to understand the human condition, the mystery of life. Then, for a closer view of death, he begins keeping company with Mireille, a new resident dying of cancer. But old and ill as she is, Mireille soon sees through Antoine's attendance and sets her own conditions, leading to a darkly humorous expedition during which Antoine gets more than he bargained for. Within the bizarre course of one man's life, Graff poses some of life's most basic philosophical questions, making this short, briskly paced novel a thought-provoking pleasure. Michele Leber
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation? Nov. 26 2011
By Ryan Lowery - Published on Amazon.com
Reading the publishers description of "Happy Days," it seemed that this short novel would be fantastic: Dark, yet funny. It is the story of Antoine, a man who purchases his own gravesite at the age of eighteen, and voluntarily moves into the Happy Days retirement home at thirty-five--effectively playing hooky from life.

Problem is, the story never goes anywhere. It is filled with fatuous plot twists that are less than interesting, and it is rather hard to care what happens to any of the characters. Maybe something was lost in the translation, but even if I could read French, I cannot say I'd take the time to re-read it in its original language.
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique - One of a kind book. Jan. 3 2007
By tiffy tucker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I couldn't put it down. It is both a funny and a sad little book at the same time. It's well worth the cost and time to read. I have no doubts that there are people out there who would do as this fellow did if they could. A great quick read! It will make a wonderful movie.

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