Then I did the only thing I could do: I gave it to my friend Carole, my Other Reading Self, to help me see if it was me or the book. When she handed it back, she said, "You have to give it another try."
Then I mentioned on Twitter that I was giving The Dinner another shot, Random House Canada told me this.
Now I tell you:
Paul and Claire meet Serge and Babette for dinner. What happens next: well, the minion said it all.
Books in translation often display a clumsy gait to me, especially books originally written in German or Germanic languages. (The Reader failed this reader before I even got to the pedophilia.) However, This translation was very smooth, allowing the undercurrent of the narrator's apparent awkwardness to knock the reader off-kilter.
And don't get sidetracked by the narrator's tangents. Don't try to make these threads weave into a familiar pattern. My mistake was that I thought the narrator was drawing me a road map. What I needed, instead, was to sit back and let the story do the driving.
Let me know when you read it. You'll need to talk. I'll be here.