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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "O! but they say the tongues of dying men
Enforce attention like deep harmony:
Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain,
For they breathe truth that breathe their words in pain."
Wm. Shakespeare, King Richard II

Jean Claude Izzo was born, lived, and died in Marseilles. Marseilles was the center of Jean Claude Izzo's universe and it was the centerpiece of his acclaimed...
Published on 11 Jan 2011 by Leonard Fleisig

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit depressing
Though no doubt this is a very well written book I found it so depressing a read I gave up about a quarter of the way through. If you are feeling too happy and want to tone your mood down a bit then I would recommend this book.
Published 11 months ago by Swallow


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "O! but they say the tongues of dying men, 11 Jan 2011
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Sun for the Dying (Paperback)
Enforce attention like deep harmony:
Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain,
For they breathe truth that breathe their words in pain."
Wm. Shakespeare, King Richard II

Jean Claude Izzo was born, lived, and died in Marseilles. Marseilles was the center of Jean Claude Izzo's universe and it was the centerpiece of his acclaimed Marseilles Trilogy, Total Chaos (Marseilles Trilogy), Chourmo, and Solea (Marseilles Trilogy). It is both fitting and more than a bit ironic that A Sun for the Dying, his last book before he died at age 54, should be about a man who wanted nothing more out of life than to come home to die in Marseilles.

Rico is a homeless vagabond living in an alcoholic daze on the streets of Paris. When his one `real' friend, Tito, dies while seeking warmth on a cold winter's night on the Paris metro, Rico decides it is time to leave Paris and head back south to Marseilles. "A Sun for the Dying" tells the story of Rico's trip home. The narrator for most of the book is Rico. The narrator for the closing chapter is a young Algerian that Rico befriended on his return to Marseilles. As the story progresses we hear snippets of Rico's story, the events and circumstances that propelled him from a comfortable middle-class existence in Marseilles to a homeless drunk. He is sick, he is dying and for this reader at least the tongue of this dying man breathes his word in pain.

Izzo's narrative is compelling. Rico is beyond pity at this point and his words spill out of him without affectation. He doesn't seek, or seem to seek, redemption or pity. He just tells his story. There is nothing particularly physically attractive about Rico. He knows that to the world around him, the world of those who have not fallen, he is mostly invisible. When he is seen he is either feared or pitied. The most compelling moments in the narrative occur when event rekindle certain feelings (love, desire, compassion) that Rico can barely recognize when they rise up out of him. On his journey he comes a across a Bosnian refugee, living an underground existence as a prostitute beholden to a vicious pimp. The relationship between the two is brief but powerfully drawn. When Rico arrives in Marseille he takes a young, physically-scarred Algerian refugee under his wing. That boy concludes the book with his account of Rico's time in Marseilles.

All in all "A Sun for the Dying" was a beautiful, melancholy book. The melancholy was heightened by the knowledge that it was written by someone so close to his own death. This book stands alone and is not at all related to Izzo's earlier work. However, I think reading "A Sun for the Dying" after reading his Marseilles Trilogy and another novel set in Marseilles, The Lost Sailors, added to my enjoyment of this volume. In either case this book is worth reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Broken lives, 12 Nov 2011
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Sun for the Dying (Paperback)
A classic "there but for the grace of God" story, stunningly told by Jean-Claude Izzo and translated by Howard Curtis. It takes the reader along on a chronicle of a life on a long slide from middle-class striving and respectability into the abyss of underclass invisibility. The protagonist of this tale is Rico, a decent man with a bourgeois morality whose fall begins when his feckless wife dumps him after 10 years of unremarkable marriage and takes up with a family friend. In that single stroke, Rico loses his wife, son and self-confidence. Alcoholism, unemployment and homelessness soon follow.

Author Izzo graphically portrays the plight of Rico and his many homeless compatriots, which ironically has become a kind of cautionary tale for this period of financial instability for the working class, and even middle class, Americans. What saves this wonderfully written novella from complete darkness and hopelessness, is the humanity that Rico continues to find even as he descends further into his bleak future. He experiences moments of happiness and understanding with fellow travelers Titi, Mirjana and Abdou. They serve to balance out the brutality that is also part of Rico's life as a scorned, non-person in a middle-class society.

The book closes with Rico's arrival in the warm south (Marseilles), where he was once happy, in love and without responsibilities. While it is literally the end of the road for him, he does find a happier life, friendship, and even a resuscitation of his vocation as a saleman (and hence, some return of his self-respect)

Beautiful writing here and a lot to think about.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit depressing, 12 Sep 2013
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Though no doubt this is a very well written book I found it so depressing a read I gave up about a quarter of the way through. If you are feeling too happy and want to tone your mood down a bit then I would recommend this book.
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A Sun for the Dying
A Sun for the Dying by Jean-Claude Izzo (Paperback - 6 Nov 2008)
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