A brilliant writer. highly original and very satisfying though nothing is "tied up" in terms of the mystery at its center--strands are left for the reA brilliant writer. highly original and very satisfying though nothing is "tied up" in terms of the mystery at its center--strands are left for the reader to piece together (or not) and not all readers will draw the same conclusions. No matter. The writing is exquisite as is the richness of insight and character. So far this is Setz's only novel to be translated into English. I'm ready to read more. right now, please....more
Elena Garro is a fine novelist and story writer: elegant, slightly surreal, wonderful in her depiction of desire and obligation; societal expectationsElena Garro is a fine novelist and story writer: elegant, slightly surreal, wonderful in her depiction of desire and obligation; societal expectations versus the heart's deep desire, the need to rebel. She should be better known but was forever overshadowed by her husband, Octavio Paz, while their marriage lasted and long after it ended.
Here are the beginning sentences of these novellas (trans. David Unger):
"There are always men in train aisles," thought Barbara, as a man offered to help her cross from one car to the next. (First Love)
The young women ran down the street, indifferent to the rain's and night's emptiness.In her rush to escape, she forgot to shut the gates of her house. Her feet pounded on the pavement as if knocking on the rainy night." (Look for My Obituary)
How can you not want to keep on reading? Go on, get the book. Or another by Garro....more
Certain of these stories I'd give 5 stars, but most of them, 3 or 4. "Afternoon at the Bakery" is a terrific quietly haunting story but none of the otCertain of these stories I'd give 5 stars, but most of them, 3 or 4. "Afternoon at the Bakery" is a terrific quietly haunting story but none of the other stories seemed to carry the same quiet intensity. "Old Mrs J" I had loved--it's wonderfully strange and memorable--when I read it in The New Yorker or Harper's (I was sure it was NYer, but the books says it came out in Hrpr's) but it's been edited since, it's shorter and to my mind, less wonderful. I like how the stories interweave; kiwis in one story, tomatoes on the road in another, show up in several of the stories, as do glimpses of character and motif. It can add to the haunting quality but other times it also feels fey, like she's trying too hard. Certainly a writer I want to read more of. Ogawa has a delicate and assured style, writing stories "that float free of any specific culture, anchoring themselves instead in the landscape of the mind," as the Washington Post Book World has written....more
The most disturbing of the romans durs I've read (I've read 6 or so) and not my favorite because of the way it disturbs but utterly impressive all theThe most disturbing of the romans durs I've read (I've read 6 or so) and not my favorite because of the way it disturbs but utterly impressive all the same. As far as I know it is the only novel Simenon wrote in first person, and this, as well as the nature of the crime, may account for my discomfort. It is, as are so many of Simenon's novels, masterful and memorable. I read this immediately following Monsieur Monde Vanishes and the theme of a father, husband, respected member of society passively accepting his lot--a life that after all, has all the material comforts, societal connections and family--until fed up, he one day makes an irrevocable break--is the same. Yet the two men and their methods are very different: M. Monde disappears, taking up life as an ordinary unseen below-the-radar man while here, Charles Alavoine meets a young woman with whom he feels love--and life--for the first time. His desire is so intense, their sexual passion so acute, that he must possess her totally and completely, and it is not a spoiler to say to the point that he must take her life. The novel explores passion, sexual desire and obsession in a way that seems extraordinary. At the same time, Simenon's evocation of setting, the atmosphere and society Alavoine moves among, is as fully wrought as in any of his novels. Here, the added dimension of Alavoine's intimate and intelligent voice (the novel is a letter to a judge and in French is titled that: Lettre a Mon Juge) makes it all the more unsettling....more
There are certain authors one returns to like old friends. In their novels one finds the landscape and terrain that feel like home. Graham Greene is oThere are certain authors one returns to like old friends. In their novels one finds the landscape and terrain that feel like home. Graham Greene is one such author for me, as are Henning Mankell and Daphne Du Maurier. Georges Simenon with his romans durs feels like another of my most trusted friends and companions. I read Monsieur Monde Vanishes after having started it a year or so ago and putting it aside--not in the right mood at the time--and felt immediately at home, deliciously so. The novel is compelling, as always, and also quietly unsettling.
In contemporary fiction often it is the wife who sheds her family and former life. We spend the novel searching for her with her husband, or we spend it with her left-behind family as they try their best to move on without her. In Simenon's novels of the 1950's it is the well-respected businessman and husband, father and bourgeois citizen, who makes a break with his comfortable life to dig deeper in the underworld. Often a crime is what plunges him into that world and makes the break for him. Here there is no crime: M. Monde withdraws a sum of money, buys a second hand suit to change into and takes the train for parts south. He is inexorably drawn to the sea (we glimpse it at various times in the novel) but it is more of distant lure than an acknowledged desire. He takes up with a woman who's been abandoned by her lover on the train. The two, more partners and friends than lovers (though they have sex, they do not succumb to obsessive desire and jealousy that lovers often do), restart daily life & routine in Marseilles among the dance halls, gambling parlors, seedy hotels. M. Monde finds a place for himself in this world (with a new name) until someone from his past surfaces and he feels compelled to act. M. Monde is not passive; he seems sure about what he wants and what he must do, but neither is he driven by the torment and obsession we see in other Simenon novels. His is a quieter desperation and his solution, his newfound milieu, is interesting and unexpected. The ending comes as a surprise (to me, at least) and is cause for the unsettling nature of the novel. M. Monde is not afraid to confront himself and his ghosts. His is a quiet bravery. One feels great affection and sympathy for him, making this one of my very favorite Simenon novels. ...more