When a process-server arrives at a housing project on the edge of
Paris to draw up a routine inventory of goods in view of seizure,
the reception he receives from distrainees Rose Melie and her
teenage daughter Louisiane is more than he has bargained for. Rose,
forever unhinged by the trauma of a childhood spent under Nazi
occupation, mistakes him for a collaborationist thug and assails
him with her alternately tragic and hilarious memories of Vichy
France. Louisiane, for her part, treats the process-server to an
exaggerated display of courtesy laced with precocious classical
erudition and a stream of late-pubescent revelations. In a
narrative that lurches giddily between 1942 and 1997, Lydie
Salvayre picks at the sores of recent French history, impertinently
exposing continuities of authoritarianism. In Some Useful Advice
for Apprentice Process-Servers--a short piece also included in this
book--the author grants the process-server a right of reply, which
he uses to chilling effect.
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