Synopses & Reviews
"An amorphous story, alternately static and turbulent, a subtle mixture of history and fiction, tragedy and comedy
. Sit back, stare up at this book: The weather's fascinating." -- Washington Post Book World
Akira Kumo miraculously survived Hiroshimas mushroom cloud. Now an eccentric couturier living in Paris, he he hires Virginie Latour to catalog his collection of literature on clouds and meteorology. As they work, he tells her the stories of those who have devoted their lives to clouds, including the late-nineteenth-century amateur meteorologist Richard Abercrombie, a photographer who may have created the only definitive catalog of cloudsbut only one copy exists, and it has never been seen. Kumo dispatches Virginie to London to track down the fabled Abercrombie Protocol, a quest both surprising and wondrous, where love, like clouds, forms and transforms lives.
"[W]ise and oddly tender
Audeguy reminds me of the late, great W.G. Sebald." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune
"An all-encompassing and startlingly erotic meditation on all the shapes to be found in nature. Beautiful, sensuous, cerebral, this novel is the work of a major talent." -- Seattle Times STÉPHANE AUDEGUY lives in Paris, where he teaches the history of cinema and arts.
"'A specialized, sensual history centers this novel from French historian Audeguy, winner of the Acadmie Franaise's Prix Maurice Genevoix. Virginie, an aimless young librarian, is hired by Hiroshima survivor and Paris couturier Akira Kumo, who seems much younger than he is, to categorize his obsessive library of cloud and meteorological-related material. While Virginie works, Kumo tells stories of other cloud gazers in history, including the fictional John Constable like painter Carmichael, who spent a year painting clouds, to the consternation of his father, and the photographer Abercrombie, who left behind the much speculated upon cloud book that bears his name. As Kumo's past begins to come into focus, Virginie is drawn into his life. Audeguy's prose, lyrical in translation, mostly manages to contain sudden shifts of time and explorations of cloud lore. Beautifully written and imaginatively structured, Audeguy's book is as diaphanous as its subject. (Sept.)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Slyly fabulist in the manner of Paul Auster, and expressing great feeling for life and scorn for arrogance, Audeguy's witty, erotic, and expansive novel subtly contrasts humankind's love for nature and pursuit of scientific knowledge with our thoughtless pillaging of the living world and tragic habit of war." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Unconventional and memorable." Kirkus Reviews
"This is an extraordinary bit of fiction....An exquisite, eccentric read." Baltimore Sun
"[A] novel of great ambition. It may be read simply for the stories of its many characters....But it is as intricately plotted as any thriller, with gems skillfully embedded throughout." South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The novel tells the story of Akira Kumo, a retired couturier living in Paris, owner of the world's largest collection of books about clouds, and Virginie Latour, whom Kumo hires to help catalogue his library. While they work he tells her the story behind three figures in particular, all British, all obsessed by clouds: Luke Howard, a real-life Quaker who in 1802 wrote the first treatise classifying clouds (we still use it today); a painter named Carmichael, clearly based on John Constable, one of the most famous cloud painters of all time, and a fictional amateur meteorologist named Richard Abercrombie, who aspires to write the definitive book on cloud description, which would come to be known in cloud circles as the Abercrombie Protocol. Kumo sends Virginie Latour to London to buy the Protocol. By the end of the novel, we learn the Protocol's great secret; we understand what binds these men together; and and we learn that Kumo himself is a survivor of the Hiroshima blast, in whose cloud his family vanished.
Akira Kumo miraculously survived the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima. Now an eccentric couturier living in Paris, he has the worlds largest collection of literature on clouds and meteorology, which he hires Virginie Latour to catalog. As they work, he tells her the stories of those who have devoted their lives to clouds: the English Quaker who first classified clouds, the painter who became obsessed with capturing clouds on canvas, and the wealthy late-nineteenth-century amateur meteorologist Richard Abercrombie, a photographer who may have created the only definitive catalog of cloudsbut only one copy exists, and it has never been seen. Kumo sends Virginie to London to track down the fabled Abercrombie Protocol,
a quest both surprising and wondrous, where love, like clouds, forms and transforms lives.
Sensual, hypnotic, deeply erotic, The Theory of Clouds is a novel of cloudsboth historical and imaginativeand how they shape our passions, our storms, and our stories.
About the Author
Stephane Audeguy lives in Paris, where he teaches the history of cinema and arts.
Table of Contents
The Study of the Skies 1
Toward Other Latitudes 89
The Abercrombie Protocol 179