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The Panda Theory Paperback – Feb 4 2014

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'Grimly humorous and tremendously dark - Superb.' Figaro Litteraire 'Pascal Garnier is not just an accomplished stylist but also an exceptional storyteller - The Panda Theory is both dazzlingly humane and heartbreakingly lucid.' Lire

About the Author

Pascal Garnier is a leading figure in contemporary
French literature, in the tradition of Georges
Simenon. He lived in a small village in the Ardèche
devoting himself to writing and painting. Garnier
died in March 2010.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Dissapointing from an author I like Oct. 4 2014
By kegraham - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having read a couple of other Garnier books, I was looking forward to this one, but I was a little dissappointed. There were elements I liked, but the ending was contrived and I felt overall the book was a little pointless. I won't give away the plot, but it has some of the usual "noir" of Garnier and there are some interesting characters, but none of it comes across as believable.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Bleak but provocative Sept. 3 2012
By Acorn - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gabriel once had all the things that people believe bring happiness - a wife and daughter, a job with travel, a home and sufficient income to go on holidays. One day all this crumbles about him. His wife and daughter are murdered by a pair of teenagers and all that Gabriel held dear, all sense of right and wrong in the world, are destroyed. For Christians, the angel Gabriel is the messenger of god. In this story, god has abandoned the world and Gabriel is a harbinger of its pointlessness. He sets aside his past and takes to a life of wandering, performing good and bad deeds as if there were no difference between them. Both ultimately are devoid of meaning.

The novel opens as Gabriel arrives in a small Breton town that always has a whiff of manure about it. He soon becomes involved with José, a bistro owner, and Madeleine, the receptionist at the hotel where he stays. Later he meets a couple, Marco and Rita, who are down on their luck. To each of them he brings some joy. José's wife is very ill and Gabriel helps him and his two children cope as news of her condition worsens. Madeleine is lonely and he brings her some sense of love and a vision of an alternative to her current job. Initially his assistance to Marco and Rita is purely monetary, but later he helps them realise they love each other, despite all the suffering and ugliness that their love has to endure.

Gabriel knows what it is to have felt happiness in life, and how transient it is. Though he brings some happiness to those around him, he knows this will be fleeting and that they should not become attached to it.

At one point, Gabriel wins a giant toy panda in a shooting gallery at a fun fair. The panda sits in José's bistro, its arms always outstretched and welcoming, accepting everything that goes on around it without judgement. It reflects Gabriel's own view that life is without morals or purpose, so we just have to accept good and evil and follow them to their logical conclusions.

Although Gabriel carries the name of an angel, an old man in town tells him that these days even angels are not to be trusted. They all look like haunted junkies now.

One night, Gabriel, José, Madeleine and Rita spend the night together eating, drinking and dancing. Though they are all suffering, for a short time they seem like a family together. As dawn breaks and José heads home, the window is thrown open and the happy dream of the night flies away. There cannot be, and will not be, any long term happiness.

Gabriel carries his beliefs to their logical conclusion. He is the messenger of the mindless universe. But it is love for Madeleine that almost changes the course of his life. Will it be enough to put pay to his wandering and restore meaning and morality back into his existence?

Pascal Garnier, who died in 2010, has written a bleak but compelling novel that examines a life where all that is precious and hopeful has been torn away. It is a confronting and sobering exposition that forces us to consider how we would react in the same circumstances. In truth, can any of us really know?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Pascal Garnier where have you been all my life? Jan. 4 2015
By Linda Niccol - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am enjoying all Pascal Garnier's work it really is noirish and elegantly written. The characters are real and their situation surreal which makes for satisfying reading!
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Will forward review later..! This is not ... Aug. 26 2014
By Cathy Hartung - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Will forward review later..! This is not the time:! All Paul Gautier's novels are sublime: Jane read all tramated. Knot Englesh
2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
powerful character driven dark noir Feb. 21 2014
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Panda Theory
Pascal Garnier
Gallic Books, Feb 4 2014, $12.95
ISBN 9781906040420

At the hotel Gabriel is staying at in the nondescript small Breton town, lonely Madeleine the receptionist suggests he eat at the Faro restaurant, the only place open on a Sunday. Faro's Portuguese owner José tells him the restaurant is closed since his wife Marie is in the hospital and he has two despondent children to raise, but shares his food with Gabriel. Soon after that the visitor meets Marco and Rita, who are going through financially hard times.

Gabriel knows what it is like to have the warmth and love of family and how fleeting that happiness is since teens murdered his wife and children; he believes one must grasp joy when it is there but also accept the evanescence of today as life lacks purpose. Still Gabriel uplifts the spirits of the villagers as symbolized by the fluffy panda he places inside the Faro to welcome people. He knows the morning will return with dismalness in full force and his inner obsession still thriving in spite of his love for Madeleine.

The late Pascal Garnier provides a powerful character driven dark noir in which a sudden deadly act of violence ripped asunder the veneer of civilization. Orson Welles summarized Gabriel's philosophy: "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone." Readers will enjoy traveling with Gabriel the messenger of the short happiness endowed to the human spirit.

Harriet Klausner

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