Title: The Reader On The 6.27
Author: Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
First published: May 5th 2014
Finished reading: May 12th 2016
(Originally written in French: “Le liseur du 6h27”)
“For all those fellow commuters, he was the reader, the bizarre character who each weekday would read out, in a loud, clear voice, from the handful of pages he extracted from his briefcase.”
I picked up my copy of The Reader On The 6.27 on a whim after I saw it mentioned somewhere on a list of books about books. I normally prefer reading the story in its original language, but since my French is a little (read: a lot!) rusty I had no choice but read the English translation. I still wish I would have been able to read Jean-Paul Didierlaurent‘s French prose, but that doesn’t take away this was one excellent story. It is true there isn’t that much of a plot to speak of, but that only brings more attention to the excellent prose. Part of the story almost felt like Fahrenheit 451 (especially the book destroying machine called ‘The Thing’ and the factory in general), but this novel is mostly something completely different that will appeal to most true book lovers out there. The main character Guylain Vignolles hates his job at the book pulping factory and decides to defy the system in his own small way by saving a few random book pages stuck in the bottom of the machine every day. Then every morning on his commute to the factory, he actually reads those random pages out loud to the other passengers! Such an inspiring idea… His quest to find the owner of the usb stick he finds on the train is quite entertaining to read as well, not to mention the random pages, multiple alexandrines and charm of the characters themselves. The Reader On The 6.27 is in one word ‘magnifique‘! Definitely worth reading if you are looking for something different and beautifully written.
Guylain Vignolles doesn’t exactly have an exciting life. He practically doesn’t have any friends, shares his small appartment with his goldfish and hates his job at the book pulping factory to an extent that even his own mother doesn’t know how he really earns his money. The only thing he looks forward to on his seemingly endless days are his journeys on the 6.27 train. Each morning on his commute to the factory, Guylain opens his case, takes out a few pages he rescued himself from the book pulping machine he calls The Thing the day before and starts reciting aloud the words on those random pages. He doesn’t even make contact with the other passengers, but this daily escape from his reality helps him stay sane. Then one day Guylain finds an abandoned usb stick on the train. He tries to figure out who the owner is, but the only file on it is a diary without a full name or return address… Guylain falls in love with the voice of the young author Julie, and is determined to find her .
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first heard about The Reader On The 6.27, but I was more than pleasantly surprised with what I’ve found. This is without doubt a charming story with interesting characters, beautiful prose, a fast pace and many many bookish references. The random pages, diary entries and alexandrines didn’t distract at all from the main story and actually made me enjoy this book more. Recommended!