x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Book review: These guards aren't very secure

The lives of two security guards are mundane until one of them suffers a breakdown

The Guard
Peter Terrin
MacLehose Press

Michel, the narrator, is troubled by strange dreams and spends a lot of time with his face pressed to a gap in the concrete beside the gate, trying to smell the seasons. Harry goes on endlessly about how their promotion out of the basement and into the organisation's elite is only days away.

Their troglodyte lives are routine and empty, and The Guard looks like it's going to be one of those novels where nothing happens (their boss is called Perec, a nod to the founder of the postmodern literary movement Oulipo) but then something does happen, which causes Michel to suffer a psychotic break and it becomes impossible to separate his fantasies from reality.

Ultimately, The Guard remains a sealed text, as impenetrable as the basement fastness where the guards dwell.