Letting out the Inner Pig

James Peach

Marie Darrieussecq’s first novel, Pig Tales, is the comic, sexual and cheery self-description of a ‘masseuse’ who gradually turns into a pig.[*] Fantastical metamorphosis mixes with grotty Parisian reality, giving rise to a Mad Max future of ruined cities and megalomaniacs. Its 153 pages can be read in an afternoon, and its themes are in tune with the preoccupations of readers of glossy magazines. For the readers of FHM (which has just arrived on the French side of the Channel), there is a nymphomaniac prostitute, a certain amount of orgiastic partying and the basic comedy of a young woman becoming a pig; for those who prefer Marie Claire, there is a concern with cosmetics, body shape and finding the elusive perfect male; and everyone will be able to enjoy the naive style and go on to chatter about the gloomy political predictions, safe in the knowledge that six nipples and a set of trotters are problems they are unlikely to face.

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[*] Faber, 135 pp., £6.99, 1996, 0 571 19372 2.