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A review of The Waitress Was New from Ray Olson in Booklist


The title and first sentence of his absorbing, ultimately profound novella are identical and herald the end of 56-year-old, very single Pierre’s 20-plus years as a barman in the suburbs of Paris. Of course, he doesn’t know that the end is nigh, though he knows something is afoot. The boss has been noticeably interested in the new waitress’ predecessor, and the boss’ wife has been preoccupied. The boss ducks out before lunch, which is more than usually hectic, and his wife decamps as soon as possible after the rush. Next day, the boss isn’t back, and his wife comes to work only just before things get desperate. A few days proceed in the same manner, and then the boss’ wife leaves, too, closing the café down, temporarily. An unforeseen yet surprising development brings story, café, and Pierre’s job to an end. Fabre tells the whole story from Pierre’s deliberately unassuming, socially inconsequential perspective. By the last page, Pierre has become not Everyman, but all-too-common man.

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