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The narrator stands accused of murder. Through his rantings, to the court, to his counsel, to the prison psychiatrist, his history is gradually revealed. Raised by an abusive rather and a timorous mother, his ability to form relationships has clearly been harmed. He does not seem to be able to see past his own concerns, or to see how his behavior affects others. In both his marriage and his employment, his self-absorption and his way of interpreting events in an egocentric way not only prevent him from forming close ties, but in fact damage those connections he has already made, leading to violence. A tour guide at the Musée Pascal, he reads one of the Pensées, and feels himself more knowledgeable than anyone on the subject. His obsession with Pascal is central to the book, and it strikes me that a familiarity with the French philosopher and mathematician would give one a greater insight into the novel's nuances. Salvayre slowly unfolds her protagonist's story. Bit by bit, she leads us to an unexpected climax. Her method of telling the story is, at first, difficult to follow, but soon we are enthralled, trying to guess the outcome.