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Three Bedrooms in Manhattan (New York Review Books Classics)

Three Bedrooms in Manhattan (New York Review Books Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Georges Simenon , Joyce Carol Oates , Marc Romano
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Attention should be paid to the New York Review of Books' continuing reissues of Georges Simenon. Simenon was legendary both for his literary skill-four or five books every year for 40 years-and his sexual capacity, at least to hear him tell it. What we can speak of with some certainty are the novels, which are tough, rigorously unsentimental and full of rage, duplicity and, occasionally, justice. Simenon's tone and dispassionate examination of humanity was echoed by Patricia Highsmith, who dispensed with the justice. So far, the Review has published "Tropic Moon, The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, Red Lights, Dirty Snow "and "Three Bedrooms in Manhattan"; "The Strangers in the House" comes out in November. Try one, and you'll want to read more." -"The Palm Beach Post" "Georges Simenon is a recent discovery for me--not the Maigret books, but what Simenon called his 'romans durs', such as "Dirty Snow" and "Three Bedrooms in Manhattan"-- and hard they are indeed. The latest of these New York Review Books reissues, Tropic Moon (translated from the French by Marc Romano) is a dark masterpiece set among French colonials in heart-of-darkness Gabon in the early 1930s. Cruel, erotic, frightening and superb."-- John Banville, "The Los Angeles Times" "Simenon was immensely admired by both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett...[His novels] compare favourably with the murky grey worlds of James M. Cain, Jim Thompson and Patricia Highsmith with their ambiguous world view of innocents and criminals caught in the whirlpools of fate and struggling to make sense of their existence..."Three Bedrooms in Manhattan" is one of his most erotic and emotionally charged stories."-- Maxim Jakubowski, "The Times" (London) ""Three Bedrooms in Manhattan" is about how we resist love, how we get dragged into it, spat out, dragged back in against our will....Blinking neon blankets the story in an atmosphere of general decay--in life and trust and the merest possibilit

Product Description

An actor, recently divorced, at loose ends in New York; a woman, no less lonely, perhaps even more desperate than the man: they meet by chance in an all-night diner and are drawn to each other on the spot. Roaming the city streets, hitting its late-night dives, dropping another coin into yet another jukebox, these two lost souls struggle to understand what it is that has brought them, almost in spite of themselves, together. They are driven—from moment to moment, from bedroom to bedroom—to improvise the most unexpected of love stories, a tale of suspense where risk alone offers salvation.

Georges Simenon was the most popular and prolific of the twentieth century’s great novelists. Three Bedrooms in Manhattan—closely based on the story of his own meeting with his second wife—is his most passionate and revealing work.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 287 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 159017044X
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; Reprint edition (23 Nov 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005YOCQ68
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #353,428 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nighthawks 18 April 2014
By lucas
If you want to have a good idea about what to expect from this book then look at Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" or listen to Erik Satie's Gymnopédies.

This is the second "non Maigret" book by Simenon that I've read and, once again, I really enjoyed the experience. The first one was "The Widow", which was published in the same year as Camus' "L'Etranger" as almost as good.

The story is about a French man who meets an Austrian woman in New York in the 40s. It is not a crime story and it has many poetic moments such as " She didn't open her eyes. Her eyelids fluttered a bit but didn't open, and they made him think of a great bird beating its wings but somehow unable to take flight". The book was first published in 1946.

The book has an excellent introduction by Joyce Carol Oates but read it only after you have read the book. The publisher should have used Ms. Oates' writing should as an afterword, not an introduction.

The book itself is very good to read. The pages are of a creamy off white, what makes for more comfortable reading. Its paperback format is very good but it is a shame that there is not, as far as I know, a better designed version of this book on hard cover.

I liked the translation as it is not one of those modern, dumbing down translations that try to reduce everything to the present vocabulary.

One word of warning: Do not read the three stars review "Interesting but no Masterpiece". Its author is very inconsiderate and reveals how the story ends...
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars elegant ennui 4 April 2010
i actually was bought this for christmas but seeing, unbelievably, that no-one has reviewed it yet i thought i should give a few words of encouragement to potential readers.

georges simenon's romans durs are stunning pieces of twentieth century fiction, slim and sparse, written with a dispassionate world view, weary and yet piercing, they stand shoulder to shoulder with camus and sartre and i firmly believe would share the same high regard if simenon had not also been responsible for the maigret novels. for critics it is impossible to be literary and popular of course!

three bedrooms in manhattan is the story of a chance encounter between a french actor in self-imposed exile in new york and a down at heel american divorcee who is looking for a little comfort. the two form an attachment which is by turns tender and antagonistic, he is possessive and mistrustful after his wife's affair but she is so emotionally starved that she will tolerate almost anything. the relationship is unromantic but all the more real for it's awkward contradictions.

there are hints of nabokov and richard yates - the whole book is drenched in nightglow and streetlights and, in my mind at least, is very Mad Men.

the actual book is nicely produced, sleek and glossy like simenon's writing, and is a credit to NYRB, who are definitely worth supporting as a small publishing house.

a five star read
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but no masterpiece 14 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
More autobiographical than most of Simenons novels, as this is somehow the story of the writer's meeting with his second wife, Denise. No reason to bring a summary of novel here, as you can read it elsewhere. If you are interested in the person Simenon, this book is a must of course, but the novel didn't really turn me on. As the title tells, the book takes place in New York, and the writer's description of The Big Apple isn't bad at all, but nevertheless I miss the French atmosphere from other books. This is a minor complaint though. The main reason why I can't really recommend the novel is because it, surprisingly, has a happy end. The two main characters DO make it - but the reader don't really believe in it, and reality shows that the reader is right, as Simenon's and Denise's relationship was a disaster. Furthermore the reader finds it hard to find sympathy for the 2 persons. The male protagonist, a famous actor, is a self-obsessed chauvinist, and the sad truth is, that this is just what Simenon was. Nevertheless his books are full of compassion and understanding, but for the reader it's very hard to find the same compassion for the 2 protagonists in this novel.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Adolescent behaviour of a middle aged man 1 Mar 2014
By NancyF
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book and author have a strong repuation - the writing is fine but I'm afraid the psychological insights are few and far between and, unless you find adolescent the infatuation/bad behaviour of a middle aged man either interesting or charming, then perhaps skip this (try Colette or any of the many mature writers instead)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Set Your Dogs And Wolves On Me 2 May 2005
By The Wingchair Critic - Published on
Though neither a crime nor a detective novel, Georges Simenon's 'Three Bedrooms in Manhattan' (1946) nonetheless takes place in the lonely, desperate, claustrophobic, and paranoid world of most of the author's other books--of which there are hundreds.

The story of a recently divorced French actor, Francios, who takes up solitary residence in Manhattan until he encounters and becomes dependent upon an unattached woman who is also of foreign birth, 'Three Rooms In Manhattan' is a dark examination of a crippled human psyche. Simenon had few peers when it came to writing psychological fiction, and despite a hopeful if slightly improbable ending, the novel is gripping and seductive. Simenon also excelled at recording the vicissitudes of human emotion under stress, and his earnest depiction of Francios, who is crippled by jealousy, delusion, and rage, is superb.

Early in the novel, Simenon shrewdly depicts Kay, the object of Francios's obsession, as a listless, calculating mythomaniac, so much so that during the book's first 50 pages, Kay seems like one of the permanently wounded, misplaced female protagonists found in Jean Rhys' five classic novels. But readers are seeing Kay through Francios's blighted eyes, and Kay eventually manifests on the page in quite a different fashion. Nonetheless, 'Three Rooms In Manhattan' revels in the grim, the sordid, and the violent, and an ugly fog of sadomasochism continually hangs in the air. Few 20th Century writers, with the exception of Denis De Rougemont, Jean Genet, and Vita Sackville-West, in her diaries, have had the courage to depict the cruelty and desire for domination and submission that lies just beneath the surface of passionate love.

Appropriately, the book takes place in mid-autumn, when the New York City weather routinely shifts between the transcendent and the unpleasant. The novel's first half revolves around a sometimes nightmarish schedule of endless, compulsive, and directionless walks which the couple takes through the city. Stopping only to drink and smoke in bars, and occasionally to eat, Francios and Kay are two lost souls seeking solace in one another, and both incapable of being apart and unable to be alone, except for the briefest of intervals. All the while, unspoken suspicions, recriminations, and phantoms from the past hang in the air.

Modern readers may find Francios misogynist in the extreme, as he spends a great amount of psychic energy spewing volleys of hatred towards Kay in his imagination, even while he walks calmly beside her through the haunted city streets.

The idea of taking active revenge against all of the women who have wounded him--especially against his ex-wife, who has left him for a much younger man--through Kay is never far from his consciousness. But Simenon superbly reveals how it is the ostensibly subservient and masochistic Kay, and not Francios, who is the stronger of the two.

Accepting even physical abuse, Kay manages to remain perceptive, objective, and resilient, while her lover repeatedly collapses in bouts of tears, humiliation, and self hatred. For Francios, passion and deep anxiety are synonymous; unable to live independently, he discovers that love is a stifling, suffocating trap too.

The mood of fatalism that suffuses 'Three Rooms In Manhattan' was somewhat prescient; Simenon, upon whom Francios was based, eventually married Denyse Ouimet, the woman who inspired the character of Kay. But Ouimet later "lapsed by degrees into psychosis," and the child of their union, Marie-Jo, committed suicide.

Most of Simenon's non-detective fiction has been long out of print in America; New York Review Books is to be commended for bringing this and several other classic Simenon novels back into circulation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For some people it's easy 9 Jun 2009
By Old Dog - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Let me add that Simenon offers that rare combination in art--artistic skill and fabulous productivity. There's Mozart and Hayden and Bellini and Des Prez and Defoe, as against the tormented labors of Beethoven. There's Dickens and Simenon and Shakespeare and A Trollope and Hugo and Dumas (pere), and DeMeung, as against Conrad and Flaubert and Hemingway, who suffered and suffered. Some people are born lucky. Are there any interviews with Simenon that offer an explanation? By the way, Simenon's closest peer in the golden age of detective fiction is Graham Greene: Both are consumate wordsmiths, both eschew the vegetive world tho setting their fictions in romantic locals, and both write successfully in several modes of fiction.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangers in a Strange Land 10 Sep 2013
By C. Q. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An odd love story. Magnificent characterizations do duty for a plot. The sense of destiny driving the relationship is beautiful and oppressive at the same time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark novel of sexual obsession and isolation 5 July 2010
By Rick Skwiot - Published on
Although the late Georges Simenon (1903-1989) may well be the best selling novelist ever, relatively few American readers know him. And if they do, it's likely for his Parisian Inspector Maigret detective series.

However, Europeans know him well. They even call any compressed, economically written and tense psychological novella of obsession a simenon, after the Belgian-born writer. This newly released edition of his searing 1946 novel of sexual obsession and isolation, "Three Bedrooms in Manhattan," with an introduction by Joyce Carol Oates, fits the category perfectly.

In it a dissolute French actor François Combe, stranded and sleepless in his New York room after a devastating split with his wife, chances to meet Kay Miller in an all-night Greenwich Village diner. Kay, another European, Viennese, and likewise rebounding from a broken marriage--hers to a Hungarian diplomat--echoes Combe's loneliness and decadence. Together they walk: from seedy bar to seedy bar swilling whiskey, chain-smoking, revealing bit by bit pieces of their broken pasts, and eventually succumbing to a sexual frenzy, all of which leads eventually to a type of desperate love.

In the hands of a less deft writer, such a story might melt into melodrama or dissolve into a weak, predictable cliché. But here, as always, Simenon rejects sentimentality, infusing his taut story with a sordid tension in a dreary, mechanistic world where loneliness and isolation ironically thrive amid throngs.

Simenon wrote his novels (some 400, which have sold over 200 million copies in scores of languages) in grueling two-week immersions into his characters, taking himself to the edge of physical and emotional exhaustion. With this novel the emotional cost must have been heavy, as it mimics his impassioned affair with Denyse Ouimet, whom he met in Manhattan in 1945 and who, five years later, after he divorced the current Madame Simenon, would become his wife.

When so submerged in a novel, Simenon pushed himself to write a chapter a day--a practice reflected in this novel, whose chapters generally run some 15 pages: a day's work. But it's the quality, not the prodigious quantity, of his output that causes it to endure.

The lean prose; the simple declarative sentences (or sentence fragments); the absence of metaphors, modifiers and writerly ostenation mark his simenons. He once remarked that he had learned from the French short story writer and editor Colette to eschew literary affectations. So, in writing, he cut "adjectives, adverbs and every word which is there just to make an effect. Every sentence which is there just for the sentence. You know, you have a beautiful sentence--cut it...cut, cut, cut."

Simenon's spare written words carry weight. An admirer of impressionist artists, he strove to give his novels a third dimension and fullness, as those artists did to their paintings. Like the pointillist Georges Seurat, who painted in discrete dots that took shape and value at a distance, Simenon, who once described himself as a pointillist writer, uses staccato sentences and short paragraphs with few transitions.

Yet somehow, in reading, it all blends together to form a vibrant, believable and often chilling whole. Mere words don't get in the way of the emotional experience being conveyed by them; the dream that Simenon creates remains unbroken by any egotistical authorial intrusion.

Indeed, at times the emotion experienced by the reader grows so intense that it is painful to turn the page. When Kay leaves to visit her ailing daughter in Mexico City and Combe latches onto (or is latched onto by) a beautiful girl in the Ritz bar, the reader cringes at the string of misjudgments Combe then makes, apparently fateful errors that seem certain to lead him into a self-destructive sexual encounter.

But as always--even in his mystery novels--Simenon never judges and never averts his piercing gaze from the most sordid and depraved human actions, the weakest and most human failings. His is a decadent world, where wives betray their husbands with young gigolos, where mothers abandon their daughters for money, where strangers have sex in taxicabs and cinemas, where men inexplicably beat the women they love.

His world is also one of seeming meaninglessness, where true human contact and communication appear nearly impossible. Where men and women alike are driven to despair and destruction by inner compulsions that defy logic and undermine their own happiness.

Yet here, for once, as Combe and Kay move from a cheap hotel to his rooms to her bedroom, they achieve a sort of connection, remarkable if only for its honesty. Somehow Simenon has created a romantic novel without romantic moments, a moving love story devoid of loving acts.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My First Simenon - Interesting & Uncomfortable 21 Feb 2010
By Jeffrey Swystun - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I learned a great deal from the introduction to this novella provided by Joyce Carol Oates. George Simenon is credited with creating "a sparely written and tautly constructed novella" now called a "simenon". Components of such a work are brisk inevitability of plot, startling and ironic conclusion, a structure which mirrors a cinematic sequence, and much more which form an intriguing formula. Novellas have always appealed to me because of their length not that I am a lazy reader by any means but I do enjoy the occasional swift conclusion.

Three Bedrooms in Manhattan follows two very sad characters that in their individual pain form a co-dependency that could hardly be called attractive. This is mainly true of the lead male who is especially pathetic and who keeps with Oates' description of a simenon's main character: "male, middle-aged, unwittingly trapped in his life - is catapulted into an extraordinary adventure that will leave him transformed, unless destroyed".

I did enjoy Simenon's take on New York in 1946 as there are several walking tours he sends his characters on. I enjoyed less the circular desperation of the two main characters but that is only because it was honest and raw - the oft used phrase of "train wreck" comes to mind. At the end there is a whiff of possible redemption and happiness but it seems too remote to provide any real optimism.
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