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The Experience of the Night (Europe 1996) Paperback – 23 Feb 1997

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Dedalus Ltd (23 Feb. 1997)
  • ISBN-10: 1873982674
  • ISBN-13: 978-1873982679
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.5 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,509,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
3 1/2 stars.

Marcel Adrien visits Monsieur Focat, an ophthamologist. In order to comply with the prescribed treatment he acquires a job in a mysterious workplace and takes lodgings in an unusual house on a square whose apparent respectability is belied by the monstrous humans living on the side streets off it.

Then things get stranger still. Adrien's adventures include living on a seemingly endless avenue, becoming a figure of adulation, having eye surgery that gives him both the chance to see the underlying beauty in his surroundings and a destructive power, being hounded for no reason by a mob, and willingly becoming a prisoner in a palace apparently constructed by M. Focat in which the statues are in fact robots of some intelligence and great malignity.

The book hangs together far better than my synopsis probably implies and is in some ways quite wonderful. If you liked Jean Ray's Malpertuis you might like this: It has the same power to catch the reader up in happenings that, however incredible, seem real and threatening. I've not rated it more highly mostly because one section, in which Adrien shares a shop and home with two mutes, seems less successful than the others and a bit because passing statements about ways in which a life is to be lived seemed to me superfluous. Well worth seeking out.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars visual and other disturbances 15 Oct. 2012
By monica - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Marcel Adrien visits Monsieur Focat, an ophthamologist. In order to comply with the prescribed treatment he acquires a job in a mysterious workplace and takes lodgings in an unusual house on a square whose apparent respectability is belied by the monstrous humans living on the side streets off it.

Then things get stranger still. Adrien's adventures include living on a seemingly endless avenue, becoming a figure of adulation, having eye surgery that gives him both the chance to see the underlying beauty in his surroundings and a destructive power, being hounded for no reason by a mob, and willingly becoming a prisoner in a palace apparently constructed by M. Focat in which the statues are in fact robots of some intelligence and great malignity.

The book hangs together far better than my synopsis probably implies and is in some ways quite wonderful. If you liked Jean Ray's Malpertuis you might like this: It has the same power to catch the reader up in happenings that, however incredible, seem real and threatening. I've not rated it more highly mostly because one section, in which Adrien shares a shop and home with two mutes, seems less successful than the others and a bit because passing statements about ways in which a life is to be lived seemed to me superfluous. Well worth seeking out.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For The Dreamers... 10 Jan. 2013
By Anthony B. Cline - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There seems to be a consensus amongst people that dreams aren't interesting. Or, if you ask most people, other people's dreams aren't interesting. Dreams, according to many, are stale in the retelling phase, lose all their luster, render their narrator something worse than pretentious. I'm too entrenched in my own tastes to even begin to care about arguing against this, except to say that I think our funneling as a culture is toward a nuts and bolts existence. This is not always entirely a bad thing. It gives us enjoyable potboilers, tersely written and easily combed through in a couple of hours. It gives us great procedural films and television shows. What it probably doesn't give us, however, is any kind of freewheeling exploration into the caverns of our (or someone else's) head. We have to seek that out ourselves, pluck it from the margins. If such a thing isn't important to you, the rest of this review might not be either. This book is, without question, about someone else's rapid eye movement.

Bealu's novel is a collection of shifting landscapes, and it is pure, unadulterated dreamtime. Situations arise and are sustained for a duration that is long enough to leave an impression but short enough to create a residue. If that sounds vague, let me be a little more clear. Bealu, like Kafka, is a painter with words and not a wordsmith. It's an important distinction. Early on in the book there is a relationship that evolves between our protagonist and a certain woman who will recur throughout the tale. The interior nature of events, the way she's initially sketched as something of a phantom, will immediately be recognizable to anyone who has read The Trial. Kafka gave himself breathing room by allowing space via omission, by avoiding novelistic characterization. Bealu does the same. He paints a little for you, but leaves much of the canvas blank for later.

That canvas grows out of hand, but oh so beautifully. It's always easy to reference Kafka, but The Experience of the Night advances into much stranger territory. Pills that require twelve hour a day labor for effectiveness. A stint in an antique shop that would seem a curse for someone with explosive hands. And let's not forget the constant transposition of the optician Fohat's office through space and time, a feat that somehow out weirds The Trial's judiciary back attics. A previous reviewer mentioned Jean Ray's Malpertuis, and that is an excellent comparison. In that work the plot is nothing more than a series of dissolving events, everything driving toward a greater nightmare. I would also say that it has some commonality with Robert Desnos' Liberty Or Love!, though I think Bealu's work is superior, mainly because it is more concerned with the business of dreams than it is with any sort of literary mechanism. Which brings me to something else...

Another reviewer cited a blurb by Andrew Crumey, who had some good things to say about the book, but also faulted it for "over-ripe" prose. I'm not sure what that means. This book is not written with decadent flourish. The prose is uncluttered, crystalline, direct as a heart attack. Just wanted to make sure no one was scared off by that quote, because the pages here are eminently readable.

Unfortunately, I see that the book is out of print and going for ludicrous sums. Dedalus is one of the best publishers today, and it is my hope that a reprint is in the works. This is the sort of gem that only they would rescue from obscurity, and so let's hope that they keep it circulating, arriving in the mitts of those looking for more subterranean textures.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little more about this book... 26 Jan. 2003
By Ryan Mckay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
From a synopsis by Andrew Crumey:
"Written in 1945, this Kafkaesque fantasy concerns a man who goes for an eye test and is presented with a box of black pills which he must take after "twelve hours of work". He therefore finds a job in a spooky factory, and things get progressively more weird. Episodic and irrational, the ideas are often better than Bealu's over-ripe prose, but no surrealist will want to be without this cult curiosity."
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