Re: RARA-AVIS: Jean-Patrick Manchette

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 13 Aug 2003


Having finished the two Manchette translations, I finally read your piece. You do a great job of describing what's so great about these books.

Spoilers ahead.

I kept thinking about Hammett's Flitcraft story while reading 3 to Kill. Beams fall into Gerfaut's life. And they keep falling for a while. He comes completely loose from his civilized shorings and aligns himself with the nature of his new world, even becomes a killer, first in the moment, then calculatingly. When that plays out, though, it does not staisfy him. Flitcraft recreated a life much like his old one when the beams stopped falling. Gerfaut goes even further and just steps back into his own old life, telling everyone he has no memories of the past year, as if none of it happened. And in a way, it didn't. Nothing has changed.

I was also reminded of Goodis's novels, of men who are dropped into extreme situations and adapt, or not. However, Jennifer, you're right about Manchette's taking these stock plots and standing them on their heads, using them to analyze the society and the individual's place within it, unlike most US noir, which focuses on the individual, and often his place outside of society.

Now I'm just pissed that more of his books haven't been translated into English.


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