“One day, a man of average height stood on a station platform holding a very heavy bag.  That man was me, but it was not my bag.”

When a book starts thusly, one can only imagine what is to follow.  Although I could anticipate the possibilities, I at least knew the ride with Christian Oster would be nothing short of entertaining brilliance.  And I was right.

In the Train, translated from the original French by Adriana Hunter, tells in first person how one man named Frank, in his eccentric attempts to find a woman, meets a likely prospect at a train station.  Finding unusual and sometimes embarrassing ways to stay in her presence, the resulting 148 pages form a book that you don’t want to read in public.  Unless you enjoy laughing out loud in the dentist’s office waiting room, that is.

At the center of Oster’s latest translated bit of genius is yet another quirky and socially inept individual you’ll wish you knew in person.  So seemingly out of touch with social convention is this story’s hero that if Woody Allen were to meet the man, he’d probably comment, “Nice, but a little neurotic.”

One thing I appreciate in Oster’s writing is his ability to convey to the reader what others think of the narrator – even when the narrator is totally clueless as to how others perceive him.  And Oster can keep his audience cringing with embarrassment over Frank’s behavior while simultaneously laughing and hoping for more of the same.  

But In the Train isn’t a laugh-a-minute, fluffy entertainment piece.  This story can be viewed through many windows.  For instance, our train traveling individual finds himself in situations where all he can do is suppose things.  He supposes how others view him, he supposes what’s going on in their minds, he supposes one thing after another – correctly  or incorrectly as the reader is left guessing.  As his assumptions shift, grow, get tossed and reformed, it’s as if the story – and the reader’s assumptions – morph constantly from one possibility to another.  And isn’t that how our lives indeed go?  As we choose how to perceive situations, even the people around us, don’t we write and rewrite our own realities?  And will the man of average height who took the train to chase the girl write his own reality, and eventually win her over, despite his lack of social graces?  One need only read the book to find out.

Want to win your own copy of the book I couldn’t put down and finished mere hours after receiving it (woe is me – when’s the next Oster?)  I have an extra copy to give away, fresh from Object Press.

Multiple Options for Multiple Entries:

1.) Just tell me about a preconceived notion you once held but was shattered.  Or perhaps you were right all along.  (***You may enter once a day, but please list a new item you like each time.) Remember, leave an interesting comment. If I cannot contact the winner, you might be chosen instead based on your comment.

2.) Blog about, Twitter, and/or Subscribe! Get an extra entry for each of these activities.  This time just leave a separate comment for each (only one time for each extra activity completed), giving me a link to your blog post, your Twitter name, and/or a note saying you’re a subscriber. (Subscribe in the upper right !  

(Psst!  My Twitter name is dkMommy.)

Feel free to do all five to gather multiple entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Monday, April 19, 2010, to enter.

48 Comments

  1. I am an e-mail subscriber.

  2. A notion that had changed for me was when I had my own children and realized that there was a great deal more involved in bringing up productive children with values and principles.

  3. I subscribe.

  4. I found out soon enough that most men are not domesticated creatures as I had once so wrongly thought.

  5. This is rather dark but I used to think suicide couldn’t happen in my family— but on July 22, 2003 it did.

  6. I am a subscriber

  7. I discovered, too late, that my dream of a happy marriage was just that a dream and unfortunately didn’t work out.

  8. I’m a subscriber.

  9. A notion that had changed for me forever is that I never thought I would lose my grown children! A parent should never have to bury a child!
    .-= Peggy Gorman´s last blog ..Mom Rocks at MomLogic!! =-.

  10. That life is a series of dissapointments ocassionally broken up by breif moments of joy, has been proven to me, again, and again. gbloganx(AT)aol(DOT)com

  11. odd books

  12. I had a preconceived notion that getting pregnant would be easy…it isn’t for us!

  13. I had the notion that motherhood would be easy peasy.. HAHAHAH!

  14. subscriber

  15. mary henderson

    I learned that life is a series of compromises.

  16. I have a notion that love was enough, its a nice thought, but truly it’s not enough. You can have love, love, love, but if the time isn’t right, or the forces of the universe are against your love, than nothing can make it work. So Love isn’t enough, luck is needed too.

  17. I learned that not all people have the right intentions

  18. When I was younger, I used to believe that love and relationships just happened… when the time was right. But you have to work hard, put in effort to find love and that right person and then continuously work to keep that relationship healthy. Please accept this as my entry.

    Aliya D.
    aliyadaya(at)shaw(dot)ca

  19. When I was in High School, I felt that I was “odd” and that everyone knew and they were all out to get me… I later figured out that everyone else felt the same way I did.

    Aliya D.
    aliyadaya(at)shaw(dot)ca

  20. I used to be shy, extremely shy. In social situations I would often marvel and wonder at other people and how they could so easily interact with each other; I used to think that many people did not have to struggle or work at socializing. After taking a few public speaking courses, I have learned that most people suffer through some form of social anxiety.

    Thanks!
    Aliya D.
    aliyadaya(at)shaw(dot)ca

  21. trains run on time

  22. I hated zoos as a kid; always felt they were cruel and inhumane to animals, but as an adult I have learned that many of these facilities treat their animals very well, that they are there for educating the public and that they are trying to save species that are slowly being forced into extinction due to human actions. So although I still look at zoos sceptically, I can appreciate the good ones for their intentions… (I went to the zoo today with my nephew and it reminded me of how I used to hate them and feel sorry for the animals.). Thanks!

    Aliya D.
    aliyadaya(at)shaw(dot)ca

  23. Sometimes no matter how good you are,bad things still happen. No matter if you think you did everything right the other person sees life in a different light.

  24. I used to believe I could control everything in my life and it’s inevitable destiny, but I learned that there are things out of one’s grasp and control; you can’t control everything and control is an illusion. Thank you!

    Aliya D.
    aliyadaya(a)shaw(dot)ca

  25. Once upon a time, I thought that parenting wasn’t that difficult a job. Of course that was B.C.- before children. Parenting is wonderful and rewarding but it has difficult moments and parenting never ends.

  26. I am an e-mail subscriber.

  27. I once thought that “Grey’s Anatomy” was a well done show.

  28. That my parents didn’t know much.

  29. email subscriber

  30. When I was younger I used to believe that everything could be solved by high energy, hope, faith and optimism. I was wrong!

  31. My preconceived notion about life itself was shattered when my brother died suspiciously. The unexpected spiritual world was very strong when he died but the after life messages he sent to me still don’t make sense but my mother’s strong dream did.

  32. I used to have a preconceived notion about teenage mothers. Then I went to work with them to teach them parenting skills. I realized they didn’t want to become parents to be adults at an earlier age. They very much still wanted to be teens. There was a plethera of reasons from loneliness, to their friends/cousins were mothers, to molestation (every single one had been molested that I worked with), to many more reasons. They can be helped, it just takes alot of time and effort.
    debp
    [email protected]

  33. We can love and hope to change someone, but that doesn’t always happen… Love is sometimes not enough and the other person has to also want to change and get better.

    Aliya D.
    aliyadaya(at)shaw(dot)ca

  34. I had a gut feeling about this girl that was trying to befriend my daughter in high school so I stopped the friendship. Turns out I was absolutely dead on correct and I saved my daughter from a world of bad!
    .-= blueviolet´s last blog ..Cottonelle’s Got Your Back(side) – Calm Down! =-.

  35. I subscribed

  36. I tweeted
    naomiccc

  37. I once thought I would never do anything to hurt a family member or friend. Then I found out how just one little wrong turn can hurt the ones closest to you.

  38. Veronica Garrett

    I once had preconceived notions that Gospel Singers and preachers were real sincere in their mission. Unhappily I discovered many look at it as an easy way to make money.

  39. I always thought women were, for the most part, safe in this country. Wrong! One day, I just started noticing how many women are killed by boyfriends, husbands, exes, stalkers, etc. It’s amazing how many women die violently in this country at the hands of someone who supposedly loved them. Disgusting!

  40. I can’t believe how hard it is to make a soft bread sometimes.

  41. I learned that life was much more complicated than I had previously thought.

  42. I subscribed to your blog.

  43. When I was young I thought my parents weren’t very bright, then I grew to see how wise they are. Now I have children of my own who sometimes explain things slowly, as if I was not smart enough to understand. I can’t wait until they have their epiphany. :) Of course there are many other things that I have had preconceptions about, but this was the first that came to mind.

    akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com
    .-= Alyce´s last blog ..Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas – Giveaway =-.