Nate D's Reviews > Compact

Compact by Maurice Roche
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's review
Sep 13, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: france, dalkey, read-in-2011, favorites, 60s-re-de-construction
Recommended to Nate D by: M. Kitchell via goodreads
Recommended for: life-flashing-before-dulled-eyes

You shall be made sleepless even as you are left sightless. While you're penetrating the darkness, you'll penetrate into the night, getting in deeper and deeper, your already failing memory growing proportionally weaker as -- at the end of a long lethargy -- you become conscious of your condition. (How will you tell day from night?)

Insane and Incredible. A bed-bound dying blind man regresses through memory and personal geography and vestigial sex drive, tormented by the doctor who sustains him -- at the price of his skin and tattoos upon death -- haunted recollection of a face without a name, and the ambiguous advances of the girl in the next appartment. Rendered with extreme kinetic elegance via breathlessly fractured six-voice stream-of-consciousness and jarring, ever-surprising typographic effects. All of which adds to, rather than distracts from, the story (ie. Not gimmicks!). And bleak as its circumstances may be -- pain and mortality are central here -- it's also absurd and funny in that emergent Joycean way: lost in swirl of words, you are suddenly aware that what you are reading has actually become hilarious without your being immediately aware.

It's also worth noting that this manages that excellent post-modern trick of being simultaneously overwhelmingly smart and surprisingly engaging, full of weird lurid detail. Maybe the most experimental novel I've ever encountered, but utterly successful even so. Even if any reading of it may only be an invitation to much more unpacking and re-reading.

Anyone know if any other Roche novels ever made it into English?
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Reading Progress

September 13, 2010 – Shelved
January 20, 2011 – Started Reading
January 20, 2011 – Shelved as: france
January 20, 2011 – Shelved as: dalkey
January 21, 2011 – Finished Reading
January 28, 2011 – Shelved as: favorites
June 9, 2011 – Shelved as: 60s-re-de-construction
April 5, 2016 – Shelved as: read-in-2011

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls This looks outstanding. Have to get this soon.

message 2: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls PS Love your "recommended for" lines.

message 3: by Nate D (last edited Jan 21, 2011 01:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nate D Thanks! Partly inspired by the much weirder ones Mariel comes up with. Lately I keep picking up books I've been looking for, then discovering that they're Dalkey-released. This one way back in the 80s. But yeah, it's great.

message 4: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine beautiful quote

message 5: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls Hmm. Compact, it seems, was only released as hardcover, and it's out of print over here. Will have to wait until the second print run. (A long wait).

Nate D Out of print everywhere. It seems I got the last cheap copy off, but that was less than a month ago, so surely more will surface. Or there's always inter-library loan.

Eddie Watkins I just got a first edition hardback copy direct from Dalkey as part of their 10 books for $65 summer sale. Kinda sad they still have first editions lying around 24 years later.

Nate D dang, yikes, yeah. I'll have to check out this sale though.

message 9: by Mike (new)

Mike Puma I checked out the sale info at DA, but it says it's only for trade paperbacks.

Eddie Watkins I don't think Compact is even available as a paperback, but I didn't even think about the format when I ordered it and when the order came this morning I got a first edition hardback that had never even been cracked open.

message 11: by Mike (new)

Mike Puma Nice--gonna have to give it a try. Thx

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