Plot[ edit ] La Moustache opens with Marc Thiriez, a middle aged Parisian, taking a bath and asking his wife if he should shave off the moustache he has sported for most of his adult life. Marc lies and says he broke his shoelace. In the car Marc asks his wife if she notices anything. She does not respond, wanting to know if he thinks she is dressed too sexy for the party.
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Because he has thick stubble, he often has to shave twice a day. It would be a good idea, she replies. She has to go out and do a bit of shopping soon after and, while she is out, he does shave off his moustache. When she returns, he pretends to be fiddling with his shoelace, so she does not see his face.
The couple are planning to visit friends that evening so she does see him, but does not comment on his lack of a moustache. He obliquely raises the issue on the way home and then directly, when back home. Naturally, they have an argument, he insisting that he had had a moustache and had shaved it off and that this joke has been going on too long, while she insists he had never had a moustache.
Clearly, each is upset with the other. There are various ways to resolve the issue and they try two. He then decides to find photos of himself and finds one, taken when they were on holiday in Java.
He claims it shows that he has a moustache. She denies it. He remembers when she has behaved in a similar fashion. He had claimed that the heating was set too high.
She denied having done so but he is sure that she did. The book is told in the third person but we tend to see the story from his point of view and he constantly tries to question her motives in his mind, sure, at first, that she is playing a cruel joke and, later, that she has lost her mind. She, of course, claims that he has lost his. The next day, at the office he is an architect , he is sure that his colleagues will comment on his lack of a moustache.
They do not. Back home, that evening, he retrieves his moustache hairs from the dustbin in the street but this is, even he admits, no proof.
He later checks his identity card and realises that it shows him with a moustache. When he looks for the other photos, they seem to have disappeared. He is unaware of this. I checked and she definitely mentioned his parents. He cannot find it, having forgotten the number. There are other examples where it seems clear that he is wrong and others where it seems clear that she is.
This is — deliberately — a somewhat baffling book. There are clear instances showing that he did have a moustache and other clear instances showing that he did not. The ending, which surprised me, does not really elucidate what is going on.
I thought this an excellent story just because it is not clear-cut and is always deliberately ambiguous and confusing, not least because we have no more idea of what is going on than do the two main characters. The two main characters are ordinary people, leading conventional lives, like most of us, which makes it relatively easy to identify with them. No doubt there have been periods in all of our lives when we have maintained one point of view of an often trivial incident and a friend, partner or family rmember, the entirely opposite point of view.
This book takes that idea to the extreme. Publishing history First published by P.
"La Moustache", d'Emmanuel Carrère : le couple et l'identité sur le fil du rasoir