Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau

In this short novel by Raymond Queneau (of Exercises in Style fame), the precocious pre-teen Zazie stays in Paris with her Uncle Gabriel, who happens to be a drag queen, for two days while her mother visits with her lover. The only thing that Zazie, who has a mouth like sailor and a mischievous streak to match, really wants to do is ride the metro, which is shut down because the workers are on strike. Disappointed, she manages to evade her uncle's watch and sets out to explore the city on her own.

This slim little book is hilariously silly and charming. Queneau's use of word play, puns, and phonetic spellings make for a veritable linguistic adventure.

An illustration of Zazie in the first pages of the book. That striped shirt is so French.

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