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The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart reviewed by Elizabeth Zollinger, Assistant Professor of Mathematics

September 11th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Fiction, Works in Translation

This is a charming coming of age story soaked with melancholy. Set in the late 19th century Europe, the narrator describes his formative years with a prosthetic heart. Teased and bullied at school for being different, the only escape for little Jack is the memory the beautiful near-sighted little singer who he has only met once. On a seemingly ordinary day, he embarks on a journey where he learns about what it means to love with a mechanical heart. On its own the book seems a little thin. There is minimal character transformation and it both begins and ends abruptly; it’s the vivid description that will keep you reading. For example the book opens on the coldest day in Edinburgh. It’s a day so frozen that even a baby’s heart can’t pump blood on its own.

The Malzieu is the lead singer of the French band Dionysos and the book should be paired with their album La mécanique du cœur (which roughly translates as the mechanics of the heart– the same French title of the book). An animated movie a la Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride is in production. Here are two YouTube videos for a taste of what the movie will be like: French only or French with English subtitles.

Find this book at a library near you. Also available as an audiobook.

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