What a funny little book! The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent is translated from French and is a short book that packs a punch. Our main character Guylain Vignolles works in a book pulping factory despite loving books. He retrieves a few pages from the machine every day and reads them aloud to commuters each morning on the 6.27am train.
That's the concept, but this quirky little book is really about Guylain's life and two people in it. A friend who lost his legs in an accident at the mill is on a quest to track down every copy of a book printed using the paper pulp produced the day he lost his legs. I loved this relationship between the two men but it was only briefly touched on given the brevity of the book.
The second person - and the highlight of the book - is someone Guylain's never met; the owner of a USB left on the train one morning. The USB contains diary entries from a lavatory attendant and Guylain is moved enough by her writing and her daily observations to track her down. The writing in Julie's diary entries is the real driver of the book, easily eclipsing the other sub-plots and eccentric characters.
I've never read a book like The Reader on the 6.27, and it could easily have been a short story containing just the USB discovery and Guylain tracking down Julie. I recommend this for booklovers and Francophiles; and at only 195 pages in length it won't take you long to read it. Definitely a little something different.
My rating = ***
P.S. Thanks to Andrea for lending me her copy.