Jean-Christophe Réhel’s Tatouine is every bit as remarkable as QC Fiction’s earlier offerings.
Other QC Fiction titles are reviewed here (if you enjoy a wickedly operatic story), here (if you prefer to feel a little heart-broken for a long while), here (if you wonder what it would be like to have a relationship with a stain on the wall), and here (if you wonder what stolen bread, dental work, and flourished firearms have in common).
What each of these works shares is a preoccupation with voice. Chances are, if readers can’t connect with the narrative voice, these will not be enjoyable reads (the wickedly operatic one is NOT short but the others are the kind of novel you can read in a long afternoon). But chances are, you’ll connect: these voices are designed to beckon readers inward.
Here, our narrative is close first-person. At some point, another character gives our narrator a Saint Christopher medal and refers to it being his name, so maybe his name is Christophe—maybe even Jean-Christophe (like the author’s). The press release includes this “Fun Fact”:
“Although both the author and the narrator have cystic fibrosis, Tatouine is far from autobiographical, more a version of how Jean-Christophe Réhel’s life might have turned out very differently had it spiralled into a series of bad decisions.”
The reason readers don’t hear his name regularly is that the bulk of the story is rooted inside him. Tatouine is comprised of his thoughts, ideas, beliefs, impressions, and imaginings. His story is preoccupied by his insides in another way as well. His chronic health issues are ever-present, not in a clinic-waiting-room pamphlet kind of way, but in an organic and pervasive way.
In a 1956 letter, American author Flannery O’Connor writes: “I have never been anywhere but sick. In a sense sickness is a place, more instructive than a long trip to Europe, and it’s always a place where there is no company, where nobody can follow.”