Robbet Grillet is an avant-garde novelist and film maker. His novel, the ‘Erasers’ belongs to the genre of detective fiction and it’s a deconstruction of the detective novel. Grillet is known for his minute and intricate description of people, places and things.
In Paris, a spate of killings has taken place. People belonging to influential sections of society are murdered. We come across a character DuPont who is a victim of a murder but he luckily survives the murder with the bullet just grazing his hand. He conspires with the doctor to make the assassination true. Wallas is sent to investigate the murder but he is not able to arrive at any suitable conclusions.
Unlike usual detective stories which are gripping with suspense, Grillet’s work is not a thrilling read. There is no suspense in the description of events. One is put into the throes of bewilderment by the random description of people, places and things which indeed have no coherent connection with the plot of the novel. The reader is rattled with the rambling dialogues of a multitude of people who in no way are connected with the novel.
Even though DuPont survives the assassination attempt, he does not go into hiding. He leads a very normal life even after the attempt. He goes back to the house and conducts his day to day affairs. This is rather puzzling for the reader. This reveals a structural flaw in the story. Wallas is led into a labyrinth of situations and he is absolutely clueless about the identity of the murder. Another thing which the novel lacks is a motive for murder. The author casually mentions that an underground organization is at work. The murderer Garinati apparently has no ideological moorings. May be the author wanted to provide a different kind of detective fiction. The actions by the police seem very incoherent. They are least interested to pursue the murder. There is no climax to the story. The story ends in a very irregular manner without the culprits being apprehended. The story is rather boring to read. The author deliberately wants to confuse the reader.
Looking at the novel from a Philosophical perspective one appreciates the effort made by the author to dethrone the quantum mechanics of blockbuster fiction. Instead of Binary Divide, there is a Binary synthesis of characters. The criminal as character is deconstructed. Crime is treated as an ordinary happening. The author has overruled the notions of plot. But we can’t evaluate it as a successive merit. The protagonist of the story DuPont apparently leads a very ordinary bourgeoisie life. It is rather senseless as to why he should be selected as the target of murder. It is a puzzle as to why the police are not able to discover the motive of murder or the murderers. But the novelist has a created a crime story that is different. He has deviated from the norm of traditional story telling. The novel is not an easy read. Yes, novels have to depart from tradition.