Garnier, Pascal . “The Eskimo Solution”, translated by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken, Gallic Books, 2016.
The Line Between Reality and Fiction
“The Eskimo Solution” by Pascal Garnier cannot be put into a single literary genre since it is between fiction and reality. In this novel within a novel, Garnier has us trying to find a new definition of morality and this is no easy job. Our narrator is writing a book in which the main character, Louis, is obsessed with the idea of death (and there is a difference between “death” and the “idea of death”). He decides to kill the parents of some cash-strapped friends so that can have a better lifestyle and he sees himself as some kind of benefactor. If you are wondering about the Eskimo in the title, it has to do with a variation of what some Eskimos do with elder members of a family. It is also here that you see the question of morality and that it has no answer.
The book is written in alternating chapters; the narrator shares these with Louis’s book. We soon see that both the narrator and Louis are made to do things against their better judgment and will. There is a third voice here as well and that is Garnier himself who delivers quite a harsh look at society. It is here that we realize how provocative this little book is with the two overlapping stories that make up the plot. We not only get parts of the novel that Louis is writing but also we read of what is happening to the author and his life. Both the main character of the novel and the author himself have problems in their lives and they both have different ways of dealing with them. At times I was reminded of the existentialism of Albert Camus that is combined with something of a detective story by Garnier and I must admit that I have never read anything like this before. Because I felt provoked as I read, I feel that the novel has a great deal to say and I am still thinking about it.