“The Lost Sailors”

“The Lost Sailors” is an interesting one. About half-way through or so, I was really enjoying Jean-Claude Izzo’s book; it seemed to be a really thoughtful and probing examination of sailors marooned in both a physical and emotional sense. Not that much had happened in terms of action, but that seemed to fit the theme too; in a way the reader was a little bit marooned with the men.

But then plot intervened.

It felt as if Izzo had woken up and said “hang on a minute; I need to make something happen here!”. What then follows – maybe the last third of the book – is contrived, formulaic, predictable and thin. [Spoiler alert!] The characters go from being intrinsically interesting in themselves to rather flimsy plot devices; moments of revelation are frankly ludicrous – “My daughter!”; “I killed him”; “She’s dead upstairs” – like the loaded revolver thrown casually onto the sofa…

Defeat snatched from the laws of victory.

I’m glad I read it though. And if you do – and if you see the warning signs just over half-way in – I suggest you stop. Regard it as a triumphant novella that tried to grow up and failed.