Daniel Pennac closes the symbolic romantic saga
WITH Terminus MalaussèneDaniel Pennac signs the end of the cycle of novels inaugurated in 1985 with Fortunately, he did. The last book in which the author’s fantasy explodes from beginning to end.
Fortunately, he did (Gallimard, 1985), Fairy gun (Gallimard, 1987), A small merchant of prose (Gallimard, 1990), so many titles that echo in the collective imagination like pillars, building a literary monument like the Malaussen saga. For 38 years, Daniel Pennac has been enriching this romantic planet that has become indispensable. After With passion fruit, published in 1999, this series has gradually become embedded in memories like an old friend that we hardly hope to see again. Of course, it was bad to know Daniel Pennac, who returned in 2017 with The case of Malaussene 1: I was lied to (Gallimard), imagination more fertile than ever.
In this January literary season, the tribe returns one last time with The case of Malaussena 2: the end of Malaussena. A novel that testifies to the importance that this series of books had in the libraries of France and Navarre, believe what delight it still causes today.
A craze that perhaps testifies to the strength of Daniel Pennac: to develop plots that carry something of our time. From this perspective, Terminus Malaussène he expands on themes he holds dear like a star – such as violence, lies, justice, scapegoats, inequalities – and only reinforces the idea that the Malaussene clan may be more than just a figment of his imagination.
For me, every time a member of my tribe comes close to death, the entire catalog flashes before my 45 eyes.
The good old recipe (that works)
This last novel has no shortage of intrigues – each one crazier than the other. This is how we find everything that makes up the salt of the saga and solidifies the books, starting with the characters: the mythical Isabelle Leroy, known as Queen Zabo, but also Mame, whose contours are becoming more and more clear; or even Pépère, who stands out as the foundation of the story. Between her and him, the dialogue is omnipresent, as a way to surrender to the author’s imagination and rhythm in complete relaxation.
How can Pépère be so scary? With his small bag and soft voice, how is that possible? We ask ourselves that question every time we talk to him. Not only Kébir, but others too.
Beyond the emblematic fresco of characters, whose names are still delicious to read but probably less so to wear (C’est Un Ange, Maracuja, etc.), Terminus Malaussène it extends again in a place dear to Daniel Pennac: Belleville County, which he maps with pleasure. You can walk from Rue Lesage to Rue de la Folie-Regnault, passing Rue Julien Lacroix. Because yes, obviously, Terminus Malaussène is a book in which you have to let yourself go, trusting the language – pleasant, incomparable.
To the joy of writing
Here: Terminus Malaussène is a book-firework. Yes, there is a world within a world. But it is primarily a way of telling it. Daniel Pennac shows all his talent as a storyteller here, in writing typical of a saga, imbued with slang, line breaks, fantasy and other significant terms of an era. Here, the book is entertainment, the book is an object, but through language and a generational symbol. From year to year, the generations overlap, and the books remain from 1980. All this contributes to Daniel Pennac becoming a novelist we like to call “popular”. And we do it without complexes.
There are disasters, Titus thought, and there are absolute disasters.
The linguistic work is also found in the title, evocative in more ways than one. Terminus Malaussène. We can, logically, interpret it as an announcement of the end. But until page 429, we don’t always understand that it goes on. Daniel Pennac adds a layer to his favorite themes and removes a certain idea of family, with which we have happily shared the last decades, hand in hand.
The case of Malaussena 2: the end of Malaussena, Daniel Pennac, Gallimard, 448 pp., €23. In bookstores from 05.01.2023.