Synopses & Reviews
I'd find it amusing if, in a few centuries, the only thing that our descendents condescend to retain of our artistic production, the only thing in which they'll see worlds to admire, to penetrate, the only thing that they'll show off as precious in immense museums after having flushed down the toilet all our acknowledged masterpieces, the only thing that will give them nostalgia and love for us will be our porn.--from Diary of an InnocentExiled from the prestigious French literary circles that had adored him in the 1970s, novelist Tony Duvert's life ended in anonymity. In 2008, nineteen years after his last book was published, Duvert's lifeless body was discovered in the small village of Thoré-la-Rochette, where he had been living a life of total seclusion.Now for the first time, Duvert's most highly crafted novel is available in English. Poetic, brutally frank, and outright shocking, Diary of an Innocent recounts the risky experiences of a sexual adventurer among a tribe of adolescent boys in an imaginary setting that suggests North Africa. More reverie than narrative, Duvert's Diary presents a cascading series of portraits of the narrator's adolescent sexual partners and their culture, and ends with a fanciful yet rigorous construction of a reverse world in which marginal sexualities have become the norm.Written with gusto and infused with a luminous bitterness, this novel is more unsettling to readers today than it was to its first audience when published in French in 1976. In his openly declared war on society, Duvert presents a worldview that offers no easy moral code and no false narrative solution of redemption. And yet no reader will remain untouched by the book's dazzling language, stinging wit, devotion to matters of the heart, and terse condemnation of today's society.
"Originally published in France in 1976, Duvert's novel is a stomach-churning, pornographically-minded trip through the back alleys of an unnamed city narrated by a man with a penchant for young boys. Structured as a loose series of graphic sexual encounters with boys as young as seven and as old as 17, the story meanders through the narrator's days seducing street kids-and their families-with his modest wealth. These children are both the 'innocents' of the ironic title and, some of them, hustlers themselves, a few of them offering their younger siblings in exchange for money, while others willingly engage in sex with the older man. The longest relationship he has is with the sulky Francesco, who mopes when other boys come knocking but eventually breaks things off. Society at large is the narrator's primary foe and he spends half of the book imagining a new world where homosexuality is the norm, heterosexuals are shunned and 'the high point of human perfection is located in childhood.' In the end, the descriptions of the narrator's unapologetic pleasure derived from sex with young boys remains shocking but nothing more.
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Now in English, Duvert's shocking novel about a sexual adventurer among a tribe of adolescent boys in Northern Africa.
About the Author
Tony Duvert (1945--2008) is the author of fourteen books of fiction and nonfiction. His fifth novel, Paysage de fantaisie ( Strange Landscape), won the prestigious Prix Médicis in 1973. Other books translated into English include the novel When Jonathan Died, and the scathing critique of sex and society Good Sex Illustrated (Semiotext(e), 2007).Novelist, translator, and essayist Bruce Benderson is the author of a memoir, The Romanian: Story of an Obsession, winner of France's prestigious Prix de Flore in French translation, and Pacific Agony (Semiotext(e), 2009.)Novelist, translator, and essayist Bruce Benderson is the author of a memoir, The Romanian: Story of an Obsession, winner of France's prestigious Prix de Flore in French translation, and Pacific Agony (Semiotext(e), 2009.)