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304 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1967
This blackness I am seeking is after all merely my own self…my own map, revealed by my brain.This admission should come as no surprise to the reader. The themes at play here are pretty standard fare for Abe: identity, isolation, alienation, otherness, and escape. (Not that I'm complaining.) Usually there’s some awkward eroticism thrown in for good measure, and that is certainly the case here. Some of the prose is just over-the-top ridiculous:
The color of her skin was that of a mellowed piece of unpainted furniture in which age and freshness smoothly fused.Really, Abe? Sometimes I’m tempted to pin this sort of absurdity on the translation, but E. Dale Saunders has translated a lot of Abe’s work and I’ve never had any complaints about his translations before. So, I suspect this might just be Abe being Abe. Toward the end, the narrative (d)evolves(?) into a sort of denouement to what Abe has been dancing around with from the beginning of the book.* I won’t say anymore because readers who make it all the way through to the end deserve discovering for themselves the final specimen laid out for dissection.