Nate D's Reviews > The Stain

The Stain by Rikki Ducornet
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's review
Jul 02, 12

bookshelves: surrealism, read-in-2012, favorites
Recommended to Nate D by: MJ Nichols via a pattern of flies on a rotted nectarine
Recommended for: Children laboring under the mark of evil or repressive upbringing
Read from June 28 to July 02, 2012

Opens at a fever pitch, a pastoral frenzy of verdant growth and decay and pious hypocrisy bleeding into mythic occult in fin-de-siecle France. From there, things only become more manic, churning and disintegrating in ever-quicker cycles until the second half unfolds almost in a single breathless torrent. What makes it work (and impressively so) is that Ducornet is actually able to maintain this frenzy with sustained narrative focus and baroque grotesque fairy tale image. I'd been not too sold on the Ducornet I'd read in the past, but even in its general hysteria, this has a much stronger sense of conviction and urgency. Also, I love the kind of moral uncertainty that this shares with some of Ducornet's surrealist fore-runners: it's clear what she disproves of, but in this anarchic jumble it's hard to extract what exactly is considered right, wrong, or just blindly necessary. In a pleasurable and compelling way. You'll see what I mean.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls Original paperback ed?

Nate D Hardcover, even! First American (Grove) edition, though there was a British publication first, I think. I had no idea when I bought it actually, but I aim for older editions as the covers are usually better.

Mike Every book in the Four Elements Tetralogy is better than the one before it, with The Jade Cabinet being one of Ducornet's real masterpieces. I hope you keep going!

message 4: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls Those flies made away with the second L in my surname again. Pesky. Also, I second Mike, The Jade Cabinet is my favourite Ducornet so far.

Nate D So they have. And in fact The Jade Cabinet is already in the mail right now, so now I'm even more excited.

Also, if the Stain was an element, I'm guessing it had to be earth?

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