From THE PARIS REVIEW.
What are some of the problems you have dealt with often and expect to deal with in the future?
The Clockmaker, Georges Simenon
Dave Galloway is a watch repairman in Everton, New York. His orderly life is turned upside down when
his 16-year-old son, Ben, runs away from home to elope. Both Ben and the girl are teenagers.
(Dave’s wife had abandoned him as well, when Ben was just one year old.) Ben has been Dave's sole interest in life but now wants nothing to do with his father.
Ben has stolen a gun, robbed his girlfriend's father, and killed a man for his car. While a manhunt goes on, Dave inexplicably poses for news photographers and answers any question put to him. He is ineffectual in his actions until it is too late, not getting the advice he badly needs.
Ben expresses no remorse for his crime, seems proud of his actions, in fact. While the trial is underway, Dave tries to make sense of Ben’s crime. This section of the novel tells the back story of Dave's actions or inactions in the past. He find similarity in what Ben has done and acts of both he and his father. Their actions are those of men who are submissive or whipped until they fight back in a destructive way. Dave's apparent closeness to his son is predicated on such "acting out" rather than on desire for marriage and family.
This book was made into a film where it's setting was change to France, much like Red Light of a few years ago. The New York setting never sat right and I wonder why Simenon felt like he had to set some of his books in the U.S. But other than that, this was a brilliant study of a man swallowed up by the society he lives in and unable to communicate his isolation.