Translated by Liedewy Hawke
Hesperus Press: 1/1/2015
eBook, 128 pages
A beautifully tragic and thought-provoking tale that perfectly reflects the elegance and style of Murakami and the skill and plotting of Julian Barnes
Bilodo lives a solitary daily life, routinely completing his postal rounds every day and returning to his empty Montreal apartment. But he has found a way to break the cycle—Bilodo has taken to stealing people's mail, steaming open the envelopes, and reading the letters inside. And so it is he comes across Ségolène's letters. She is corresponding with Gaston, a master poet, and their letters are each composed of only three lines. They are writing each other haikus. The simplicity and elegance of their poems move Bilado and he begins to fall in love with her. But one day, out on his round, he witnesses a terrible and tragic accident. Just as Gaston is walking up to the post-box to mail his next haiku to Ségolène, he is hit by a car and dies on the side of the road. And so Bilodo makes an extraordinary decision—he will impersonate Gaston and continue to write to Ségolène under this guise. But how long can the deception continue for? Denis Thériault weaves a passionate and elegant tale, comic and tragic with a love story at its heart.
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault is a highly recommended beautifully written novella.
Bilodo is a lonely postman in Montreal who does his job well and without complaint because he has found a way to make his life meaningful. You see, "Bilodo was an inquisitive postman." His inquisitive nature leads him to carefully taking home, steaming open, and reading a letter a day from the people on his route. He is a postman who has found meaning to his life through the lives of others. He is especially taken with the correspondence of Ségolènea, a Guadeloupian woman who is sending haikus to a man on his route, Grandpré.
Bilodo find the haiku beautiful and moving. He is obsessed with Ségolène and each of her delicate, lovely haikus. He makes copies of each poem and savors them, in love with the words and also the writer. When Bilodo witnesses an accident and Grandpré death, he tries to take over the man's life and begins to write his own haiku, awkwardly at first, but later with more skill and finesse.
This is a delicate, lovely tale about the nature of loneliness, obsession, and the beauty and order of writing haiku. Since it is a short novella much of the focus is on the haiku rather than detailed character development. The ending was perfect for this elegant story, totally unexpected, and... enlightening.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Hesperus Press for review purposes.