- Paperback: 112 pages
- Publisher: Gallic Books (October 14, 2014)
- ISBN: 9781906040390
- Source: Publisher
Alain de Monéys is a twenty-nine year old man who, unlike others in his social class, refuses to buy his way out of military service. Instead, he plans to join the ranks of Napoleon III’s army and fight against the Prussians. Before he departs, he visits a fair held in a neighboring village. This decision has lasting implications for, moments after he arrives in Hautefaye, Alain is wrongly accused of supporting the enemy. Within moments, an angry mob attacks him, made up of the very same people he held a casual and friendly conversation with just moments before.
The mob grows in both size and intensity. Their actions are reinforced by comments and accusations not at all related to the current situation. The attack is not brief, instead lasting over two hours covering the area of an entire village. By the end of the attack, the mob has lynched, tortured, burned, and, yes, eaten him.
Teulé has taken an actual historical event and reconstructed it, turning it into a brutal account of mass hysteria. One false accusation has a domino effect, turning an innocent young man into a brutal killer, thereby giving the villagers permission to torture him to death. Throughout the attack, a few people step forward professing Alain’s innocence. At this point, however, the beatings have rendered him unrecognizable. Rather than stopping the attack, it increases to a horrible intensity.
I’m not going to lie; Eat Him If You Like is a pretty brutal read. Yet, Teulé’s styled prose adds a sort of eloquence and beauty to this brutality. Additionally, the way the author described some of the scenes made me laugh hysterically, despite the obvious intensity and seriousness of the moment. Through all this, however, a message stands out loud and clear: one small action could have devastating consequences. Adding a group of drunk, unruly villagers and a small misunderstanding backfires. The plausibility of this situation is not impossible; it has happened in modern times repeatedly.
While there are some pretty graphic scenes that might be difficult to stomach, the message that comes out of this novella far outweighs any negative (or nauseous) feelings. Additionally, the wide range of emotions this story evokes is wholly unique, never have I been so fascinated and compelled to read something so devastatingly ghastly.
Give it a read. I guarantee it will be unlike anything you’ve ever read before. Highly, highly recommended.