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Dying (French Literature)by Rene Belletto
Synopses & Reviews
In this darkly playful novel, polymath René Belletto tells two complimentary stories: In one, a man finds himself paying a ransom demanded by the kidnappers of a woman he’s never actually met; in the other, a second man makes plans to fake his own death to escape a woman whose devotion has begun to terrify him. Fast, funny, and sarcastic, partaking of the same vocabularies, imagery, and pitch-black sense of humor, these two variations on a single theme form a novel as much at home in the surreal as in everyday reality.
“One evening, shortly before my departure (just hours before my departure, truth be told: I only set aside my quill to make my escape), I resolved to put the story of my sojourn at the Rats and Vermin Hotel down in writing. Alas, I didn’t succeed. I learned that I wasn’t master of my own hand. It was stronger than I, yes stronger than I . . .”
"Belletto (Machine) sets up a narrative hall of mirrors in this whimsically discursive treatment of the inevitabilities of life in two interrelated stories. A nameless narrator who has consigned himself to dying in Paris's Rats and Vermin Hotel shares the convoluted story of how he got there. The story, of course, involves a woman: Queene, a grifter, has been paid to impersonate a woman who has been kidnapped. The scheme is that the narrator, after delivering the ransom, will realize he has been duped, and leave in hopeless anger. Instead, he falls madly in love with Queene and the two travel to Spain and indulge their passion for each other, though he conceals from her his discovery of a troubling manuscript that he believes tells his future. In the second story, the same nameless narrator develops an infatuation for a woman, Anita, so stifling that he resolves to fake his own death in order to get away from her. That Belletto doesn't bother trying to form a coherent story line shouldn't be surprising, as his interest here lies in exploring cerebral, linguistic, and philosophical turf. The takeaway is playful and absurd, with thought-provoking text taking the place of traditional narrative. (Oct.) Set in 1987, Harwood's searing if overlong look at doomed youth chronicles a few pivotal days in the life of 14-year-old Junius Posey, a captive of poverty, ignorance, and misguided social programming in the Rindge Towers, a drug-ridden Cambridge, Mass., housing project. Beginning with his older brother Temple's funeral, Junius's extended quest to wreak vengeance on Temple's killer and make himself a power in his 'hood results in a vicious black comedy of murderous errors. Harwood (Jack Wakes Up) pulls no punches, revealing not only the white death of crack cocaine but the ineffectuality of black liberals who believe their Harvard Law books can cure the malignancy inherent in 'forgotten civic ideas' like the Towers and the desire of the Towers' inhabitants to destroy anyone trying to escape. In the end, Junius's fate is as old as Aeschylus, the endless cycle of killing 'just a snake eating itself.' (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
A metaphysical thriller about the lengths to which men will go to escape the inevitable—be it love or death.
About the Author
René Belletto was born in 1945. He is a screenwriter, guitar teacher, poet, and novelist. He is the author of numerous books of fiction, criticism, and poetry, including the novels Dying, Eclipse and Machine. His novel L’Enfer was awarded the Prix Fémina in 1986.Alexander Hertich is an Assistant Professor of French at Bradley University. In addition to translating, he has written about Jean- Philippe Toussaint, Raymond Queneau, and other modern French novelists.
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