Two books and one DVD that you should not hesitate to buy/rent/steal:

These movies don’t need my recommendation, but the collection itself, with its wealth of extras and (as always) immaculate transfers, is worth its weight in a precious metal slightly less expensive than gold but more expensive than silver. I don’t know what that metal is, but if you find out: bingo!


Jean-Patrick Manchette wrote more than just these two masterpieces of existentialist French noir, but these two are my favorite. Both are available in English. Fatale from NYRB in an indifferent translation, and La position du tireur couché (as The Prone Gunman) in a better translation from City Lights Noir. If you can read French, you should. Manchette has been described as Guy Debord meets Rayond Chandler, and while that’s both reductive and inaccurate, it’s not entirely wrong.

5 Responses to North of Onhava: Picks of the Week

  1. Ronnie says:

    I want to acquire a reading knowledge of French. I have never learned another language, not even the usual forgotten year of Spanish in school. I just want to read certain books in the original language. How long do you think it might take? I want to read La Montagne morte e la vie, I want to read Paul Eluard and Beckett etc etc. I’d love to watch certain movies without subtitles too but really it’s the reading that’s important.

    • James Greer says:

      It seems to me that you could pick up a reading knowledge of any Romance language in about a year. Oral/speaking comprehension and/or fluency is much, much harder, but comes to some people easier than to others. Usually requires spending a fair amount of time either in the country where they speak the language you want to speak, or around native speakers. I recommend at least trying. It’s worth the effort.

  2. ivanjohnson says:

    The Tardi graphic novels of Manchette are pretty swell, too. Just out: LIKE A SNIPER LINING UP HIS SHOT, based on La position du tireur couché.

    The best Manchette translator is the great and good Donald Nicholson-Smith, one of the original (expelled, of course) Situationists. Also known for his translations of Laplanche & Pontalis, and of Debord.

    Manchette’s son Tristan, a/k/a Doug Headline, is a writer/screenwriter/director, not unlike some others we know, yes?

    • James Greer says:

      This is really good info re: translations and graphic novels and Tristan, whose name strikes me as familiar in a way I can’t quite place. Or maybe I can. I bet my friend Ben Schwartz knows about the Tardi stuff, but if he doesn’t I’ll clue him in. He’s crazy for the comix.

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