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Henri Duchemin and His Shadows

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Emmanuel Bove was one of the most original writers to come out of twentieth-century France and a popular success in his day. Discovered by Colette, who arranged for the publication of his first novel, My Friends, Bove enjoyed a busy literary career, until the German occupation silenced him. During his lifetime, Bove’s novels and stories were admired by Rainer Maria Rilke, ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 11th 2015 by New York Review Books (first published 1928)
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3.75  · 
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 ·  126 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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See, I was in an Irish graveyard, in the Fifteen Shilling plot, and I was getting terribly confused at the chatter, which I did not expect. So I slipped out, promising to myself to return, and maybe I will, and I opened this as a respite. Yes, as a respite.

There are seven stories here, the best of them merely banal. The worst, annoying, in this way: Now I am writing to you. You can see that I am writing because you are reading what I write. Uplifted?

Anyhow, as if I've taken some potion, they'r
MJ Nicholls
Bove, famous for his masterpiece of solitude My Friends, also penned short paeans to solitude and strange male friendships, seven of which are collected in this fresh translation. ‘Night Crime’ features a woeful soul whose whisperings lead to murder, a fattened wallet, and the inevitable moral decay; ‘Another Friend’ a woeful soul who meets a rich ‘friend to the poor’ who proves to be no friend at all; ‘Night Visit’ a woeful soul whose girlfriend in a moment of thoughtless cruelty ends their rel ...more
Ben Winch
These are effective stories, neat and well-wrought, but I can’t imagine they’re central to Bove’s ouevre. Really, I bought this book on impulse, on the strength of its cover, the ostensible link with Robert Walser (he’s namechecked in the blurb) and the introduction by Goodreads friend/acquaintance Donald Breckenridge. Well, the cover’s great – I love Arp and that combination of greys/blues. As to Walser, he’s here, but peripheral: underdogs in rented walk-ups abound, and tortured (in Bove’s cas ...more
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-bought
I have never read Emmanuel Bove, and now, I feel like I have a good new friend. On the other hand, do I need him as a friend? The short stories all deal with a main character who feels misplaced or not connecting on a human level with others or their settings. In many ways, they are totally self-destructive figures who seem to enjoy their fall from grace to embrace emotional failure. Most of his fiction was written between the two world wars, so it's a world that itself is in conflict, and i thi ...more
Stephen P
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Too slight and thin. It was as though after a certain point Bove cared little for his child moving on to his next progeny where the same sad occurrence prepared itself to happen again.
Daniel Polansky
A collection of lovely, sad, strange short stories. I particularly liked the one where a man destroys everything in his life just to prove he can do it.
J.M. Hushour
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
As the Introduction states, Bove is a nice point at which Kawabata might have met Poe. Certainly "Night Crime", the story that actually features the titular Duchemin, comes pretty close. The rest not so much. Kawabata actually wrote beautifully if deceptively simply, whereas Bove is just sort of...there. Poe was fucking weird and gloomy whereas Bove sort of slouches towards that.
The stories aren't bad, but they're puzzling in their mediocrity, especially considering Bove's other, more engaging
I received an ARC from the publisher.

This collection of short stories all feature men who are unhappy and looking for someone or something with which to identify. In the first story entitled “Night Crime,” Henri Duchemin, a forty-year-old man, is alone on Christmas Eve in a pub lamenting over his poverty and loneliness and the last thing he wants to do is to go back to his cold, empty flat. He wanders around the streets in the rain until he really has no choice but to go home. But before he goes
Kobe Bryant
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Sad little stories
Callum McAllister
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such European 1900s melancholy. very funny, very Gogol-esque, but lacking the surreal. More about a good turn of phrase and characters who always seem to get worse than they deserve.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Poe meets Simenon. Psychological hysteria meets cynical reason. . . It's the sort of thing you'll like if you like that sort of thing.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gracias a Vila-Matas por haberme descubierto a este maravilloso escritor.
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lost, desperate, isolated characters inhabit Emmanuel Bove’s short story collection Henri Duchemin and His Shadows (1928). While the characters are sometimes isolated due to circumstance, it’s primarily their inner thoughts and private fears that separate them from mainstream society. The dominant threads here are broken relationships, absorbing disillusionment and coming to terms with a less-than-satisfactory life. Naturally, most of the disillusion occurs in relationships between men and women ...more
Adam Dalva
Sep 07, 2015 rated it liked it
My first time reading Bove - his stories have a wonderful subconscious flow and his descriptions are often remarkable. I am certainly going to read one of his novels after this, because the qualities that set this apart (strong characters, humor, writing) lend themselves to that form. The collection starts off very strongly, but it trends downhill because the stories are a bit too similar - it would probably be better to read one a day. Though they are all accomplished, the stories of lonely men ...more
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reading Bove is like watching the bastard child of Victor Hugo and Franz Kafka (obvious physiological impracticalities notwithstanding) sipping strychnine from a fine china cup while playing chess in a deserted park. Make of that what you will.
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
He is my therapeutic, sagacious, mythical older brother. I've always looked up to him and have in fact, wanted to be him. He is my idea of purity and all that is good and worth fighting for.
Czarny Pies
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
As with Mes Amis, the reader feels that the objective of Emmanuel Bove in "Henri Beauchemin et ses ombres" is to provide the back story to the famous Beatle Song "Eleanor Rigby" with its celebrated refrain:
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

The characters are poor economically, intellectually and spiritually. Emannual Bove is unquestionably a writer of talent but his recipe quickly becomes tiresome. His characters and their dilemmas ar
Helke Voss-Becher
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had read these Bove-stories in French and was intrigued. Two years ago I was asked to translate "Ce que j'ai vu" into German. (Now available as "Was ich gesehen habe" im Golden Luft Verlag, Mainz.)
I then bought the English edition (Henri Duchemin and His Shadows) in order to look at the translation into English.
The translation deeply impressed me. I can only recommend this book to all those who cannot read Bove in the Original.
Taylor Lee
Aug 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: stories, french
Strange, sparingly detailed stories. At times wonderful, at times unnerving, at times as well strikingly accurate in their depiction of despair, fear, and loneliness. The novella /Night Crime/ and the stories "The Child's Return"and "Is It a Lie?" are noteworthy, though all of the works are interesting enough to be memorable.
Larry Ggggggggggggggggggggggggg
Fail and depress
Dave Holcomb
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Bove is an underappreciated writer from the first half of the twentieth century. This particular book, a collection of short stories, is a great introduction to the author's work.

I suspect that, had I encountered these stories thirty-five years ago, Bove would have joined Lawrence Durrell and Jerzy Kozinsky in my cosmic pantheon of angst: Bove's characters are obsessive and self-absorbed in ways that every human being who has survived his/her early twenties can understand. Now, almost two genera
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: french-lit
while one (pick any) story in this collection is nice, the rest is just variation of the story which makes whole collection boring. I don't think that Bove planned his stories to be so similar but even if he did the effect is just not interesting. Collecting these stories in one place makes Bove's repetitiveness more pronounced. Because it will take only one afternoon to read, pick up Henri Duchemin .. or His Shadows from the library and enjoy reading one.
Apr 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed Is it a lie, the final story in this collection but wasn't blown away by the other stories. I have no real criticism of the style or content, it's simply that something didn't gel for me.
The stories aren't really plot or character driven, but as the back copy says, Bove has a great eye and ear for detail and these stories are worth reading for that alone
Transvision Zack
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Oct 04, 2015
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Apr 14, 2017
Geoffrey Swain
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Jan 05, 2017
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Jun 13, 2016
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Emmanuel Bove, born in Paris as Emmanuel Bobovnikoff, died in his native city on Friday 13 July 1945, the night on which all of France prepared for the large-scale celebration of the first 'quatorze juillet' since World War II. He would probably have taken no part in the festivities. Bove was known as a man of few words, a shy and discreet observer. His novels and novellas were populated by awkwar ...more