Steve's Reviews > Ravel

Ravel by Jean Echenoz
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's review
Jul 31, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: novels, translations
Read from July 28 to 31, 2011

It's remarkable that such a compact account of a life, or at least the final ten years of a life with backwards glances woven into it, can feel so complete and not awkwardly compressed. There's such a strong sense of Ravel as character, in particular as a person concerned with surfaces, appearances, and presentation—even holding up concerts on more than one occasion because he'd worn the wrong shoes—and while the style of the novel mirrors that concern it is anything but superficial. There's always a sense of more beneath the surface, and the reluctance of both character and book to fully reveal that "more" becomes revealing in itself (especially in those moments when an authorial voice cuts in to make us rethink what we're reading, something Echenoz does so powerfully in a number of his books). Overall, a perfect interplay between style, subject, and even size, as the physical compactness of the book itself only enhances its sense of entering the intimate moments of the composer.
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