I've gone through three of Simenon's romans durs, those recent reprints from NYRB.
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By - man did I ever feel like I needed to take a shower with Comet after reading this one. Popinga is such a nothing, such a hollow core, it's frightening. but fascinating and utterly believable, that a person whose identity is held up entirely by social conventions should become so degraded when those supports vanish. eesh I hope this never happens to me!
Monsieur Monde Vanishes - an excellent, excellent book. a similar premise to the one above, in that an outwardly successful middle-aged man walks out on his life utterly. but Monde is such a different character that his transformation in the experience is the opposite of Popinga's.
The Widow - ouch. what a bruising tragedy. the title character Tati is maybe the most sympathetic character I've read in a Simenon, in spite of her warts-and-all portrayal. the disaffected stunted-growth rich-kid punk who becomes her undoing is also superbly drawn. this book is a beautiful bummer.
after these I lightened up by reading "The Busy Body" by Donald Westlake, a wacky whodunnit with a schlubby reluctant mob functionary as the protagonist. good for some morbid laughs, and as usual, lots of Westlake's mis-communicative dialogue.
hey, if I was gonna read some Maigret novels, where should I start?
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