Saturday, July 30, 2011

New England Holiday

Red Lights (New York Review Books Classics)
Red Lights  
by Georges Simenon

"He called it 'going into the tunnel', an expression of his own, for his private use, which he never used in talking to anyone else, least of all to his wife.  He knew exactly what it meant, and what it was like to be in the tunnel;  yet, curiously, when he was there he never allowed himself to admit the fact, except for occasional brief instants, and always too late.  As for determining the precise moment when he entered it, he had often tried to do this afterwards, but never with success." (p 5)

What do you do when you are rushing toward the unknown, possibly a dangerous situation, and you are unable to stop? Georges Simenon takes us through just such an experience in this novel as we join Steve Hogan as he begins an unexceptional Labor Day weekend sharing a drink with his wife before they head north to Maine to retrieve their two children from Summer Camp. What we know is that Steve has premonitions about the trip almost from the beginning. What we don't know is how serious and dangerous a trip it may become. Simenon succeeds in creating a seemingly mundane life for Steve and that makes the suspense which builds throughout the story even more effective. The power of the novel comes from this suspense and from the psychological portrait of solitude and alienation that is slowly created moment by moment as Steve struggles, yet continually slips inexorably toward danger and out of control. Simenon lived in the United States for just a few years and set nine of his American novels on the east coast. This novel, however, reads like the work of a writer who had lived here all his life.

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