George Simenon by David Carter (The Pocket Essential)

I’ve had a few comments lately about one or other of the Simenon reviews. For those who want to start getting seriously into Simenon, I recommend making the modest purchase of a slim, but invaluable paperback: George Simenon by David Carter (The Pocket Essential).

The author’s a huge Simenon fan, and he’s certainly done his research. The intro contains how his interest in Simenon started, a brief bio, and an article on the origins of Maigret. Then comes the invaluable info for the serious collector: Carter lists the Maigret novels and then the romans durs chronologically. Each entry includes a brief synopsis and a rating of the novel on a 5 point system. He includes the French title and then the various translated titles, and this is invaluable because when you go to buy out-of-print Simenon titles, it becomes very easy to buy duplicate copies of the same novel as there may be 3 or 4 titles given to the same book.

Also, Carter includes the contents of various Simenon omnibus editions, so this makes it possible for the collector to buy one omnibus edition that includes several titles–again that helps in the duplication and cost department.

Finally there’s two articles:  Simenon on film & Simenon on TV and Radio followed by a couple of pages of reference materials. So for all you Simenon fans out there, do yourself a favour, and if you plan to get seriously into Simenon, the best advice I can give is to use this wonderful little book as your guide. It’ll save you in the long run, and you’ll easily be able to keep track of which titles you’ve read and which ones you’d like to read.

And if you’re in the mood for a bio of this phenomenal author, try The Man Who Wasn’t Maigret by Patrick Marnham.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “George Simenon by David Carter (The Pocket Essential)

  1. I quite like these Pocket Essentials and this sounds like a particularly good one. It’s so difficult to find the English titles and put them together with the French ones, especially when there are numerous titles for one book.
    I’ve only reviewed two Maigret ones so far but it took me so long to find those titles.
    It sounds slike a book worth having.

  2. It’s available used for just a couple of dollars. The book helped me tremendously as I was buying oop titles and ended up with many duplicates. I have most of the romans durs now (cannot find some titles), and I’m working on the maigrets.

  3. The problem of book titles can be a nightmare. I’ve noticed they change the titles more often for crime fiction than for literary fiction. (Especially for Noir: French titles never look like the English one.
    I promise I’ll read one in 2012, it’s about time for me to try him

  4. I hadn’t heard of this, but now plan to pick up a copy for a serious Simenon fan (and for myself, too). There are a couple of similar guides in French, for those who read Simenon in French (and for what it’s worth, there’s also a terrific “Serie Noir” cocktail encyclopedia available in French with a lot of drinks that show up in Simenon novels).

    • I’m currently trying to brush up my French so that one day I can read Simenon novels in French–not English. He made a point of writing using a limited vocabulary so he might be one of the easier authors to tackle.

      I highly recommend the bio too.

      • Simenon is a terrific place to start to renew your French. I should know, since I entirely owe my re-entry into reading French to a friend’s having encouraged me to read “Le Haut-Mal.” I couldn’t believe how quickly I was able to progress after that. Bon chance!

      • Great idea. Don’t forget you know a living French dictionary, if needed. Not always instantaneous, given time difference, but reliable anyway.
        PS: Litlove said the other day that she’d recommend Boileau-Narcejac for first novels in French.

  5. I have enjoyed these Pocket Essentials – very often they are quite enough to give you the background you need. I would love to be able to read in French – I had an uncle who finished every day with a chapter of a French novel in French

  6. leroyhunter

    I have the Markham bio on my wishlist thanks to your review Guy.

    My plan is to read the NYRB romans durs, and see where I go from there. This sounds really useful.

    • Leroy: I had a list of Simenons I wanted before I bought this book, and then ran into duplicates which was very frustrating. I now have this pocket book right next to my computer–I use it that much.

  7. Sounds like a great little book … and one in a series? I might check it out for other authors that might be of interest. And I’ll refer this book to a couple of Maigret fan friends. I would like to read him one day, but am probably not at the Pocket Essentials need stage yet!

  8. PS … your banner is a change in style! Nice. Did you take the photo?

  9. Gummie: Pocket Essentials have a long list of guides–incl: film directors, film genres, history, literature (looking at the back page).

    I’m thinking I should change the photo as it’s not very seasonal.

  10. It does sound well done. Then again that’s no surprise, the Pocket Essentials are often much better than they probably need to be. The one on noir fiction is very good, I’ve been looking recently at one on psychogeography that looks interesting, they match subject and author very well in my (admittedly limited) experience of them.

    The French page a day idea is quite a nice one. If I were to try a Simenon though, in French, which one should that be? Perhaps The Train again since I at least know it.

  11. I own almost all the romans durs. There are a couple of titles missing and the oop copies are expensive. I ordered a copy of one of the novels I cannot find in English. This wasn’t necessarily the best choice as it would probably be best to use the kindle (as Emma does), so I’m going to play it by ear and see how I go. I may be back to books for 5 year old by February.

  12. leroyhunter

    Lots of love out there at present for Simenon, thanks to the Penguin project to republish all the Maigret books with new translations.

    Here’s an overview:http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/11/quiet-commissaire

    And a review of the first in the series: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/26/pietr-latvian-inspector-maigret-georges-simenon-review

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