Torches and pitchforks. And not over the quality of the prose. Straight out of Pirandello.
Lussaud is a tiny hamlet of 25 inhabitants with old stone cottages perched at an altitude of 1,000 metres, in a landscape framed by the ancient volcanoes of central France. Jourde’s father was born and buried there; his ancestors had houses and a family farm, and the writer spent long periods there in his holiday home.
In 2003, he published Pays Perdu, (Lost Land), a novel recounting the reality of life in this bleak and under-populated area he likened to Outer Mongolia. He described a place where the gods were called “Alcohol, Winter, Shit and Solitude”; where having one tooth was a status symbol akin to wearing a monocle and where an old lady let dead dogs decay in her bed, tucking herself up beside them every night.
Paris’s literary critics seized on it as a fascinating warts-and-all depiction of La France Profonde. But villagers thought differently. The owner of the nearest shop, “which sells everything, from cheese to underpants”, propped a few copies near the till. It took a while for the reaction.
And then, you know, they attacked him.