Ecrire un court livre historique, entre roman et essai, dans un projet totalement stylistique, avec une prose telle qu'on n'en lit plus, sur un tableaEcrire un court livre historique, entre roman et essai, dans un projet totalement stylistique, avec une prose telle qu'on n'en lit plus, sur un tableau qui n'a jamais existé, voilà le défi que Pierre Michon a choisi se donner et qui, habituellement m'aurait vite ennuyé. Et pourtant, j'ai été d'abord séduit par le style, car Michon est un maître styliste, puis par la puissance narrative de la fin du roman. Il commence donc par un exposé, évoquant d'abord les grands-parents puis les parents du peintre, dans une sorte de leçon d'Histoire à la Michelet dont l'ombre hante chaque page de ce livre puis en vient à la nuit où ce tableau a été commandé à son auteur. Ce faisant, Michon dépeint les tréfonds de l'âme humaine: ambition, misère, mesquinerie, vanité... mais sans jamais juger, sans jamais tomber dans la morale à bon compte, car il les comprends tous ces personnages historiques ou non, tous ces pantins agités par les soubresauts de l'Histoire. La scène de la nuit de la commande atteint des sommets dans le récit: Michon a la puissance du cinéma mais uniquement avec les mots. Il n'écrit pas comme tant d'auteurs bercés de cinéma; il écrit, vraiment. A tel point que j'aurai voulu en avoir plus de cette narration. Ah comme j'aurais voulu voir Robespierre apparaître sous la plume d'un tel auteur!...more
Contrairement à de nombreux livres de littérature jeunesse, j'ai réussi à finir celui-là, ce qui en dit déjà long suir sa qualité. Timothée de FombellContrairement à de nombreux livres de littérature jeunesse, j'ai réussi à finir celui-là, ce qui en dit déjà long suir sa qualité. Timothée de Fombelle réussit quelques scènes et écrit avec un style qui ne manque ni de panache ni de qualité. De plus, il nous promène dans une époque passionnante qu'il sait rendre avec pertinence. Néanmoins, le roman souffre des défauts habituels aux romans jeunesse: personnages trop stéréotypés, action omniprésente et absence de psychologie, de réflexion, aucune possibilité de s'immiscer dans l'esprit des personnages. J'ai apprécié la lecture de "Vango" mais j'aurai voulu, évidemment, que ce soit plus dense. Cela dit, je lirai la suite sans bouder mon plaisir. Rien que pour cela, "Vango" vaut qu'on le suive dans ses cavalcades tumultueuses poursuivi par ses nombreux ennemis....more
"Star of the Sea" is the name of ship sailing from Liverpool to New York in the year 1847, terrible year for famine-torn Ireland. On board, as first-c"Star of the Sea" is the name of ship sailing from Liverpool to New York in the year 1847, terrible year for famine-torn Ireland. On board, as first-class passengers are Lord David Merredith, his wife and children, and the children's nanny, an Irish peasant girl, Mary Duane; Yankee abolitionist journalist and aspirant writer Grantley Dixon; a strange maharaja and his butler; a minister. In the steerage are hundreds of paying passengers fleeing the hunger and dreaming of the Promised Land, most of whom will die of fever or other ailments during the crossing. Among those, Pius Mulvey, fugitive and reluctant planned murderer, watched by an Irish nationalist secret society.
This novel is actually a collection of extracts from another novel (by Dixon), press clippings and extracts from the captain's log book. With these complementary narratives, we discover that many characters have loads of secrets which will be slowly revealed over the course of the novel. Because of this, O'Connor manages to maintain our interest in the book and the multiplicity of narratives never seemed dull (which was a risk). O'Connor's other strength lies in some very powerful scenes he offers: the final fight between Lord Merredith and his father, the doomed love between David and Mary, the prison escape of Pius. In following his characters, by successive strokes, O'Connor depicts a tableau of the Ireland at the time of the famine and its people's complexity, never falling into the trap of generalization.
However, this novel also suffers from some flaws. O'Connor's style is efficient but at some times lacking in the undefinable something which would make it the hallmark of a great writer. Also, if it's good that he elected to have archetypal characters, sometimes, they lack the depth required of them in order not to fall into the pit of the slightly cliché.
Nevertheless, I have greatly enjoyed reading "Star of the Sea" and I recommend it to anyone who likes Ireland, history and powerful narratives....more
For English readers: I don't know if this novel is going to be translated and when, but this new take on the famous characters from the Magician of Oz, full of a gritty realism that contrasts sharply with the elements of wonder, is a masterpiece. Never before, I believe, have I seen such an extravaganza set in the first half of the darkest 20th century.
From the trenches of World War One to the Nazi death camps, with the Dust Bowl and the heydays of Hollywood with Tod Browning and Disney as well as the actual production of the Oz movie, Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Lion as well as two Munchkin are summoned into our world (by its darkest power of attraction, by its emptiness that echoes with their own) into which they are incarnated and wherein they look for answers and for the meaning of their carnal existence, searching after Oz, a true Oz this time. A desperate, poignant, dark quest, this novel is a brilliant mise en abîme written in a stylish language that constantly explores the melancholic link between fiction and reality and how they are the two poles of the same eternal question that haunts us all....more
A novel about why Nazism haunts our contemporary consumer society. This novel about a history teacher, specialist of Hitler, who sees Nazism in everyA novel about why Nazism haunts our contemporary consumer society. This novel about a history teacher, specialist of Hitler, who sees Nazism in every aspect of his everyday life is compelling, extremely well-written, painfully so at times when it strikes with the force of evidence and it's often disturbing. A must-read. ...more
A book that is part-novel part-biography, Hammerstein revolves around the mysterious, silent figure of general Kurt von Hammerstein, highest officer iA book that is part-novel part-biography, Hammerstein revolves around the mysterious, silent figure of general Kurt von Hammerstein, highest officer in the Reichswehr before Hitler's ascendancy to the chancellery in 1933 and his seemingly retreat from active duties in 1934, a retreat he welcomed even if it was forced by Hitler's circle who rightly saw in Hammerstein an adversary to their power.
The key-question of the book is how some of the elite from the German society of the 20s and 30s could resist against Hitler's regime without sacrificing everything and especially their lives. Hammerstein embodies such passive resistance: never putting himself at the forefront of the opposition but never compromising himself with Hitler's regime. Is it because of his example (Enzensberger seems to think so) that his three daughters all had ties with the Communist Party of Germany or even directly with Moscow and that his two sons were involved in the failed 1944-assassination attempt against Hitler?
And yet, if the book's intent was to show how some of the highest military were everyday heroes in the sense that they always refused Hitler's regime, I think it falls short in its demonstration. They never comprised with Hitler, fine, but they didn't really try to stop him when they had the opportunity in 1932 and 1933 (and even in 1938). Hitler was lucky (the series of happenstances that protected him from numerous planned coups against his regime are astonishing) but he also had managed, as one officer states rather bluntly, to "emasculate" the army. So, they could very well, in reaction, retreat in their aristocratic contempt against this upstart, vulgar madman that they thought Hitler was, but it is all the posturing of defeat that doesn't speak its name.
Finally, I don't know if this failing comes from the ambiguous genre of the book. Neither history book nor novel, I think that this ambiguity, which leads the author to mix different kind of historical sources in the same blend, somehow drowns and dilutes these sources to the point of blurring their interest. The best parts are, I found, the fictional conversations between the author himself and the dead, which comes back from a long literary tradition and showed Ezensberger's temerity, at last, to dare bring something personal in this story. Hence, I believe this book would have been better and more convincing if Ezensberger had showed more of this kind of audacity. But I understand that the weight of history, especially this history, can hinder the liberty of story. ...more
500+ pages d'un flux de conscience continu, seulement interrompu par quelques chapitres d'un roman dans le roman, au gré des pensées d'un narrateur pr500+ pages d'un flux de conscience continu, seulement interrompu par quelques chapitres d'un roman dans le roman, au gré des pensées d'un narrateur pris dans ses réminiscences des guerres, celle qu'il a faite mais aussi celles qu'il n'a pas faite, et hanté par les morts qui peuplent la Méditerranée.
Un roman qui s'inscrit dans un héritage ambitieux: Homère et Joyce, l'Iliade et Ulysses et qui est à la hauteur de son ambition.
Une fin que je ne suis pas sûr d'avoir compris mais qui, quelle qu'en soit la signification exacte, parait bien trouvée et renvoie le lecteur à son rôle face au narrateur-personnage et à l'écrivain. En d'autres termes, de la quintessence de littérature.
The second installation of the "Bigend" trilogy is less relevant and powerful than the first, "Pattern Recognition." However, this story of spooks setThe second installation of the "Bigend" trilogy is less relevant and powerful than the first, "Pattern Recognition." However, this story of spooks set in New York and Vancouver is still a very good read and benefits from the same set of qualities as its predecessor: a strong female character (but the lead heroine is a little bit too much like the one from "Pattern Recognition"), Hubertus Bigend, who is the link between the two volumes of course, and a mesmerizing sense from Mr. Gibson of what defines our current times. Indeed, William Gibson, after having been the writer of the cyberpunk movement, is today the writer of the globalization. Fiction helps us indeed to better understand our reality and thus helps us to define it. ...more
In this book (about which I first heard by Mr Gibson himself at the Saint-Malô festival), we are on the edge line between the future and the present.In this book (about which I first heard by Mr Gibson himself at the Saint-Malô festival), we are on the edge line between the future and the present. Gibson abandons his predilection for the anticipation of the future (as he did in "Neuromancer") to delve on the present and to define it along as it unfolds before our very eyes. I've read "Pattern Recognition" quite a long time ago now and the story is a little fuzzy in my memory. However, what I remember quite well is its relevant meditation on what the future is when the present is too fast to take the past into account. In other words, there is no present today because it passes us by much too quickly. In this world of fading present, the heroin is able to sense the future and is employed by a mysterious figure, Hubertus Bigend, that tries to define the future. A very intriguing (there are World War One trenches, Russian mafia, London hype, Korean hackers and tons of other scenes directly syphoned from reality to be transmogrified into words) and well written book (in a very precise, almost computerized style). ...more
Un court roman pour la jeunesse qui cherche à réflechir au langage et à son pouvoir. Encore une fois, le genre même dans lequel il s'inscrit -- la litUn court roman pour la jeunesse qui cherche à réflechir au langage et à son pouvoir. Encore une fois, le genre même dans lequel il s'inscrit -- la littérature jeunesse -- me gêne car je n'arrive pas croire en ce personnage d'Anna qui est également le narrateur, mais un narrateur trop omniscient, ayant beaucoup trop de recul sur ce qui lui arrive, ce qui s'explique par le besoin de donner des indices au lecteur.
La lecture de ce roman est néanmoins très agréable même si quelque peu prévisible. En fait, je m'aperçois que j'attends plus et mieux de Fabrice Colin.
Quite a good read even if I read it during a period when I was preparing an exam. So I had to put it off several times, which explains my troubles witQuite a good read even if I read it during a period when I was preparing an exam. So I had to put it off several times, which explains my troubles with the identification of all the family ties between the characters.
The novel opens with a very evocative scene of murder, one that will serve as the key-line for the rest of the book. There is a very deep sense of intertwined fates here, one that draws us deeper and deeper into the sense of shared horrors that serves as the basis for the community of Pluto, a small town in North Dakota which hosts a reservation of the Ojibwe tribe.
The narrative is based on several characters which are the focus of entire chapters. Three characters have multiple chapters: Evelina, a young Indian woman coming to terms with what it means to grow as an Indian in the America of the 1960s; Mooshum, her grandfather, arguably the best character of the book because of its complexity and humanity; and Judge Basil Counts, their distance relative, who acts as the local judge.
My only reserve is that Louise Erdrich, while she writes with a clear and smooth prose, doesn't really tackle her subject, brushing it with slight touches but never really coming to terms with it.