Synopses & Reviews
“Annie Ernauxs work,” wrote Richard Bernstein in the New York Times, “represents a severely pared-down Proustianism, a testament to the persistent, haunting and melancholy quality of memory.” In the New York Times Book Review, Kathryn Harrison concurred: “Keen language and unwavering focus allow her to penetrate deep, to reveal pulses of love, desire, remorse.” In this “journal” Ernaux turns her penetrating focus on those points in life where the everyday and the extraordinary intersect, where “things seen” reflect a private life meeting the larger world. From the war crimes tribunal in Bosnia to social issues such as poverty and AIDS; from the state of Iraq to the worlds contrasting reactions to Princess Dianas death and the starkly brutal political murders that occurred at the same time; from a tear-gas attack on the subway to minute interactions with a clerk in a store: Ernauxs thought-provoking observations map the worlds fleeting and lasting impressions on the shape of inner life.
“An extraordinary fabulist of subterranean aggression.”—Christine Ferniot, Télérama
“Like Francis Bacon, Luc Lang sets out ‘to paint not the horror but the scream.”—Jean-Claude Lebrun, LHumanité
“[Luc Lang] works with enormous talent on ellipsis and on the unsaid. . . . His electrifying writing presents events in all the banality of their ugliness or sadness: the firing of a good worker injured on the job, the foiled attempts of a superior to wrest sexual favors from a subordinate, the failing memory of an old man. . . . Lang shows the cruelty of the world without ever pronouncing the word ‘cruelty.”—Les Inrockuptibles
In sixteen ferocious short stories, French author Luc Lang encapsulates the brutality of everyday life. Each tale is an admixture of tragedy, comedy, ridicule, and pain. Compassion lurks somewhere, perhaps, but pity is conspicuous by its absence.
Langs curt, agitated prose disassembles daily life with a swift, unflinching hand and examines it with a sharp, analytic eye. Skinning quotidian moments to bare, raw impulses, confusions, and the agonies underneath, the stories in Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor show the mundane grind of the everyday forces that are fueled by cruel calculation and amoral happenstance and shot through with bizarre surprise. The results are at once coldly comic and powerfully tragic.
Interpreting human interactions as a series of precise jabs and desperate flailings, Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor tells truths about the darker sides of our potential and our well-meaning urges dimmed by chance.
About the Author
Annie Ernaux was born in 1940 in Lillebonne, France. Her autobiographical narrative, La Place,won the Prix Renaudot, and her books, A Womans Story and A Mans Place, were named New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Ernauxs most recent novel, Les Années, is widely considered one of her greatest works. Jonathan Kaplansky has translated numerous works, including Hélène Dorion's novel Days of Sand and Hélène Rioux's novel Wednesday Night at the End of the World. Brian Evenson is a professor and director of the Literary Arts Program at Brown University. He is the author of Altmanns Tongue (available in a Bison Books edition) and, most recently, Last Days and Fugue State.