How To Kill a Rattlesnake

Adam Polio, the central character in J. M. G. Le Clézio’s early novel, The Interrogation, offers the following sure-fire method of subduing and destroying a deadly rattlesnake. Pay close attention.

snake… How to kill rattlesnakes. That’s easy. You need to know three things. Rattlesnakes. Are very vain. Don’t like jazz. And as soon as they see an edelweiss they fall into a cataleptic trance. So. This is what you have to do. You take a clarinet. When you see the snake you pull an ugly face at him. Being vain, they get in a rage and rush at you At that moment you play them Blue Moon or Just a Gigolo. On the clarinet. They don’t like jazz. So they stop short. They hesitate. At that precise instant you take out. You take out of your pocket a real edelweiss, picked in the snow. And they fall into a cataleptic trance. So then. All you have to do is grab them and slip a p onto them somewhere. When they recover from the trance. They see they’ve become merely. That they’ve become merely prattlesnakes. And as they’re so terribly vain, this kills them. They prefer to commit suicide. They hold their breath. For hours. In the end it kills the. They turn quite black.

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The Marmoset

InterrogationAdam leant back in his chair, lit a cigarette, took a sip out of the bottle, and waited. He waited without knowing exactly for what, settling down vaguely between two layers of warm air and watching the monkey. A man and woman went slowly past the table, loitering along with their eyes fixed on the small furry animal.

“Pretty things, marmosets,” said the man.

“Yes, but bad tempered,” said the woman. “I remember my grandmother had one for a time; she was always giving it titbits. But do you suppose it was grateful? Not at all,it would bite her ear till it bled, the nasty brute.”

“That may have been a sign of affection,” said the man.

Adam was suddenly seized by a ridiculous impulse to get things straight. He turned to the couple and explained.

“It’s neither pretty nor bad-tempered,” he said, “it’s just a marmoset.”

—From J. M. G. Le Clézio, The Interrogation