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Pigeon Post (Eastern European Literature) (Eastern European Literature Series) Hardcover – 6 Nov 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; First English Translation edition (6 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564785165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564785169
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,357,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


accomplished and delirious comic novel' - James Womack, Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Dumitru Tsepeneag (born 14 February 1937) was a leading member and theorist of the Romanian 'oneiricist' group in the late 1960s and early 70s, before the communist regime suppressed the literary movement. The regime viewed Tsepeneag as a troublemaker and in 1975 Ceausescu himself personally signed the decree stripping him of his Romanian citizenship, thus forcing him into exile. He settled in Paris, continuing to write literary work in Romanian, and later in French, as well as publishing extensively in the press. Since 1990, he has commuted between Paris and Bucharest.

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By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover
'Pigeon Post', a novel by the then expatriate Romanian writer Dumitru Tsepeneag, was first published in French in 1989 under the pseudonym 'Ed Pasternague'. In form, it draws primarily on models taken from avant-garde music and chess, with persistent intrusions or deformations of an anarchistic, mildly surrealist character that remind the reader of Tsepeneag's background as one of the founders of the Romanian Oneiric movement. The result is a tale that stops and restarts, combines and recombines, constantly questioning the act of creation.

Tsepeneag's ostensible narrator is a blocked writer, 'Ed', who resembles Tsepeneag at this time of his life - resident in Paris but not a native Frenchman. 'Pigeon Post' is Ed's subversive attempt to turn the chaotic process of composition itself into a finished, publishable 'work'.

So far, so postmodern. Although the book is short - 150 pages of text - the author's chosen method makes 'Pigeon Post', although straightforward on a line-by-line level, a slow, sometimes puzzling, occasionally infuriating read. Tsepeneag's take on this now international style owes more to European models than to Anglo-American postmodernism; the most obvious precursors are Robbe-Grillet and Queneau, and perhaps the literary game-players of the Oulipo. There is also something more than a gesture in the direction of Nabokov and his early 'chess novel', 'The Defense'. Having said that, on the evidence of this book alone Tsepeneag is not quite in that class.

Trying to summarise a book in which 'nothing happens', where the importance lies in the process and not the result, and in which the ontological status and authority of the 'characters' is constantly and deliberately undermined is a fool's task.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A deliciously complex subversion of our expectations 4 Sept. 2009
By G. Dawson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Pigeon Post, a novel by Romanian author Dumitru Tsepeneag, challenges our underlying assumptions about novels and their writers. Rejecting traditional narrative structure, Pigeon Post instead is made up of fragments ostensibly composed by an anxious writer, named Ed, struggling to write a novel. Bits of dialog and memories mingle with recipes for herbal teas, a story involving a chess master, and descriptions of scenes Ed glimpses from his apartment window. To enliven his novel-writing project, Ed turns to three longtime friends (Edward, Edgar, and Edmund) and solicits memories from them to add to his novel-in-progress. In this collaborative writing project, it's never clear what's real and what's imagined, what's part of Ed's novel and what's part of Ed's daily life. Indeed, it's quite likely Ed's three "helpers" are nothing more than facets of his own imagination, each with a distinct artistic vision for the novel. In an interview in June 2008, Tsepeneag likened Pigeon Post to "a creative writing workshop."

Slowly, out of the tangle of seemingly unrelated fragments, several cohesive story lines emerge, but they are never fully explored. Nor does Pigeon Post offer much in the way of thematic development (in that same interview, Tsepeneag admits to no more than "the shadow of a theme"). Early in the novel, in a passage where Ed describes his writing project, Tsepeneag signals what kind of reader he's hoping to reach:
"When all's said and done, I'm piecing together a puzzle that doesn't exist. In the insane hope that when I'm through, I'll manage to put forward a more or less consistent story. I'm counting a little on the reader here, on the kind that's capable of hanging in there to the end, or remaining active and alert like a detective in a dentist's waiting room."

Pigeon Post is frustrating and unsatisfying on many levels, mostly those related to our desire to read a good tale in an accessible form. Viewed as an experiment in structure and identity, however, this novel is a deliciously complex subversion of our expectations, right up to the elegant twist at the very end.
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