Right, new year, new start – or at least, the start of getting back into reading. This 1986 novel begins with a small change that becomes all-consuming. “What would you say if I shaved off my moustache?” the protagonist asks his wife Agnes. “That might be a good idea,” she replies, laughing.
The man goes ahead and shaves his moustache, but is annoyed to find that doing so has left behind a conspicuous patch of pale skin in contrast with his tan. He’s surprised that Agnes doesn’t seem to notice, and even more so when their friends Serge and Veronique don’t say anything at dinner that evening.
Thinking that Agnes must be playing a prank, the man questions her, and she insists that he has never had a moustache. He grows ever more desperate in his attempts to prove that his perception is right, and in imagining the elaborate deceptions that he believes Agnes must have arranged. The stakes grow higher when Agnes denies knowing Serge and Veronique, and it looks as though the man may have lost all grip on reality.
Carrère keeps the narration tightly bound to his protagonist’s viewpoint – not so much that it can’t be questioned, but enough that its momentum does not let up. The ending is perhaps the protagonist’s ultimate attempt to assert the validity of his perception. I don’t know that I was drawn in enough for The Moustache to have its full effect on me, but it was quite the journey.
Published in Vintage Editions.