It’s about a boy (named Isidore Mazal, called Dory, desperately wants to be called Izzie), who lives with his five brilliant brothers and sisters, bonafide geniuses all of them. Isidore is merely smart enough for his age and therefore will not have a PHD by age 22 or something equally ridiculous. Isidore is the book’s narrator and he watches his family closely, especially after the father dies. That’s how they talk about their father: the father. And once he’s gone, he barely comes up again. Only Izzie thinks it’s all very strange:
‘One day, I passed by Aurore’s door while my mother was in and I heard my mother say, “You worry too much honey. Everything is going to be fine. You’ve always worried and it’s always been fine.”
“Exactly,” Aurore replied. “That’s exactly why I need to keep worrying.”
I didn’t understand how they could agree that everything had always been fine.’
Other Anderson-esque markers: a suicidal/anorexic best friend, an kindly but deceptive elderly person, an obsession with a foreign language, multiple failed running away attempts, perfect little cakes, neurotic but talented siblings, angsty academics, peculier sexual encounters, adorable dialogue, cutting insights, and trauma transposed into hope.
Camille Bordas’s first English novel is set in a small town in France.
And even though much of what happens to Isidore is really bad, it never feels all that bad. Because it’s so beautiful too.
Related reads: There is an interesting interview with Bordas in Electric Lit, which you can read here. In it, Bordas explains why relating to fictional characters is weird.