Apr 15, 2013

The Giraffe

by Marie Nimier

I'm writing something about this book so that hopefully you will never read it. It's that awful and for once I have no reservations saying so. Well, the writing itself is not terrible, in fact it's rather well-written but the content I found very distasteful and upsetting. It's about a troubled young man who becomes caretaker in a zoo, of a juvenile female giraffe recently caught from the wild. Right from the start it's obvious that this young man has disturbing fantasies, at first about his co-workers and random people he sees in public places, but also about animals and eventually becoming focused on the giraffe. His behavior is eccentric and his interactions with other people consist mainly of avoidance, spying and subtly manipulating them. With animals it's even worse as he likes to win their affections and then torment them. When it started to get sexual and violent I had to quit reading.

There were some interesting bits when he found a half-finished painting of a previous giraffe that had been brought to the zoo, and periodically would make up stories about that long-ago young giraffe travelling from African with its caretaker. I found that part interesting and almost continued reading just to follow that secondary storyline (which would have been easy enough to pick out, as it was printed in a different font).

At first the book also reminded me of quite a few others which I liked far better. Something about the nature of the story at first made me think of works by David Garnett and I rather thought at first the novella would be something like The Zoo Where You're Fed to God, but nope, this one went far beyond. In a way it was also reminiscent of Kafka, with the strange situations but I realized soon that it was the wandering way in which the young man told his story, and the odd circumstances he created that caused this illusion. His meandering inner dialogues made me think of Holden Caulfield for a brief spell, as well, but that similarity soon wore off as well.

No, this book is better left alone, unopened. Not my taste at all.

Abandoned ........ 199 pages, 1995


  1. Aaaa, dude, gross. I was giggling when I read the first few sentences, because I've rarely seen you be so unequivocally negative. But damn. This sounds like the ickiest book ever.

  2. Ooooh. Definitely will avoid this one. And, I'm glad to see that it's fiction. If it was real, that would make it even creepier.

  3. Jenny- Icky, yes. Very icky.

    Bookfool- I, too, am very glad this was fiction!


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