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About the Author
Elisabeth Horem was born in Bourges, France, in 1955, and educated in Paris, where she studied Arabic. She has traveled extensively, and spent many years in the Middle East with her husband, a Swiss diplomat.
Jane Kuntz has translated Everyday Life and The Power of Flies by Lydie Salvayre, Hotel Crystal by Olivier Rolin, Pigeon Post by Dumitru Tsepeneag, and Hoppla! 1 2 3 and Making a Novel by Gerard Gavarry, all of which are available from Dalkey Archive Press. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Detailed accounts of the plot can be found elsewhere, but the guts of it is that a chap takes a job in a foreign city, ultimately because the name of the city appeals to him. Once there he soon forsakes that job for another, he wanders through a friendship, an affair, an acquaintanceship with a local.
I'd originally begun this review warning off people who value dramatic incident and sympathetic protagonists but then I realised that there are plenty of dramatic events in the book and that, no doubt because I am myself a rather aimless sort who spends more time gathering wool than carding it, I did in fact sympathise with Quentin. The thing is that just as Horem employs a simple style and detached tone she doesn't treat incidents that many authors would highlight as OMG IMPORTANT EVENT as dramatic ones and she imparts a sense of the main character not only by recounting his visible (though usually metaphorical) meanderings but, wonderfully, by his internal ones. I don't mean that she portrays Quentin as someone rendered ineffectual by a tug o' war between id and superego--nothing of the sort, nothing so potentially dramatic nor explanatory. Fever hallucinations, betrayal by lover and family, being lost in the streets of a foreign city, a holiday week with a new lover, the departure of his closest friend, dealings with a menacing thug--they're all simply things that Quentin meets with and not things that seem half so evocative and so telling as the fragments of his memories and the vauge images evoked by flickering shadows cast by candlelight.
Spare, menacing, atmospheric, obliquely melancholy.