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Small Lives Paperback – 4 Mar 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: ARCHIPELAGO BOOKS; Tra edition (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972869212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972869218
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 1.4 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 314,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Michon's prose tends to slow down in order to oblige you to hear its rhythms and also to see and touch and smell what is happening beneath it . . . His supple prose, dappled with chiaroscuro effects, is used in straightforward chronicles. But his writing can at any time lift or lower into semi-hallucinatory effects that recall Arthur Rimbaud's assaults on conventional perception. --Roger Shattuck

In the flow of Michon's meditations and narratives, the visionary becomes the actual, and the actual becomes the visionary. --Leonard Michaels

One of the best-kept secrets of modern French prose. "--Publishers Weekly
"
An astonishingly rich, mythic new direction in modern French narrative. --Guy Davenport

Rarely have I encountered a writer whose work felt so rewarding upon a first reading. . . . Reading Small Lives, I felt profoundly that Michon was carrying on the mark of a true writer: one who speaks in his own voice while conveying with all its immediacy and flesh-and-blood possiblity of what it means to be human. --Richard Kalich, "The Review of Contemporary Fiction "

In Small Lives by French author Pierre Michon, not only are we aware that we are reading great literature, but we have the privilege to accompany him on this journey in which he discovers the voice and style that make this an outstanding work of depth, substance and originality. --Monica Carter, "Three Percent
"
The emotion, the forceful claims of the imagery, the painting of the starry night: Mr. Michon achieves what other writers wouldn't try, licensed as he is by keen regret and transfigured loss. More than other writers, Mr. Michon misses the poetry of the past, and in missing it he possesses it. --Benjamin Lytal

Already in this first book Mr. Michon's style is full-grown, a lush mix of realism and impressionism. He favors long, complex sentences("Proustian" wouldn't be unfair) that push forward even while constantly stepping sideways, a slow-paced prose that attempts to contain life'slarger gestures and its minute sensations at once. Martin Riker, "The Wall Street Journal"
Michon s prose tends to slow down in order to oblige you to hear its rhythms and also to see and touch and smell what is happening beneath it . . . His supple prose, dappled with chiaroscuro effects, is used in straightforward chronicles. But his writing can at any time lift or lower into semi-hallucinatory effects that recall Arthur Rimbaud s assaults on conventional perception. Roger Shattuck
In the flow of Michon s meditations and narratives, the visionary becomes the actual, and the actual becomes the visionary. Leonard Michaels
One of the best-kept secrets of modern French prose. " Publishers Weekly
"
An astonishingly rich, mythic new direction in modern French narrative. Guy Davenport
Rarely have I encountered a writer whose work felt so rewarding upon a first reading. . . . ReadingSmallLives, Ifelt profoundly that Michon was carrying on the mark of a true writer: one who speaks in his own voice while conveying with all its immediacy and flesh-and-blood possiblity of what it means to be human. Richard Kalich, "The Review of Contemporary Fiction "
InSmall Livesby French author Pierre Michon, not only are we aware that we are reading great literature, but we have the privilege to accompany him on this journey in which he discovers the voice and style that make this an outstanding work of depth, substance and originality. Monica Carter, "Three Percent
"
The emotion, the forceful claims of the imagery, the painting of the starry night: Mr. Michon achieves what other writers wouldn't try, licensed as he is by keen regret and transfigured loss. More than other writers, Mr. Michon misses the poetry of the past, and in missing it he possesses it. Benjamin Lytal"

About the Author

Pierre Michon, born in Cards, France, in 1945, is one of France s foremost contemporary writers. He was awarded the French Academycentss Grand Prix du Roman for The Eleven (2009), the Prix Decembre for his short novels Abbes and Corps du roi, the Prix Louis Guilloux for La grande beaune (The Origin of the World), and the Prix de la Ville de Paris in 1996 for his body of work.
Jody Gladding is a poet and translator. Her most recent collection of poetry is Rooms and Their Airs. She has translated over twenty books from French, including The Serpent of Stars by Jean Giono. She teaches in the MFA program at Vermont Collegeof fine Arts, and lives in Vermont.
After devoting a part of her life to specialized horticulture, Elizabeth Deshays, now works as a teacher and translator. She is the author of a study on bilingual education, L Enfant Bilingue. In addition to Michoncentss novels, she translated Julien Gracqcentss La Presqucentsile (The Peninsula). She lives in Prov


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Format: Paperback
I've rounded up from 4 1/2 stars. I'd give it ten stars if I could just to encourage people to read the damned thing. This book has won prizes, this translation won a big prize, Small Lives is well-known in France, it's worth three dozen Martin Amis's, and it seems to be all but unheard-of here.

Because it's been a while since I read it, this review won't have much detail. The book is about eight people living in deeply rural France. There are feuds, disappearances, disappointments. There is a death brought about by a man's refusal to admit to his illiteracy. A priest conducts services in an empty church. Happenings and doings and people about which the outside world knows nothing, cares nothing, but that are the world in these small lives. What Robb has to say about peasant life in The Discovery of France is brought to life here, but most of the events and interactions in the book would not seem unfamiliar to inhabitants of any rural area that's kept many of its old ways.

Small Lives is beautifully written. The people seem real (well, they are to a degree) and the places, both landscape and interiors, are evocative and exquisitely drawn. Michon is able to alter his style and tone seamlessly and appropriately and he always draws the reader along with him.

Because the book is apparently highly autobiographical, some of the lives are of those of Michon's family. It's natural that we should get to know the narrator/Michon, just as it's natural that in so small a settlement each person has a strong connection with the others. Gradually it's he who becomes the main character in the book, and that's the only quibble I have.
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By Paul Bowes TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 19 July 2010
Format: Paperback
Pierre Michon's Vies minuscules (1984), translated here as Small Lives, is an idiosyncratic book that is hard to categorise. Most frequently described as a novel, it is structured as a series of linked short stories that take the form of biographies of persons whose 'lower-case lives' are linked by a connecting thread. That thread is the author's own life: and in the end Small Lives emerges as an elliptical autobiography and Bildungsroman, as well as a portrait of a certain register of French life over more than a century.

Michon is a very French writer in the lyrical vein. His prose, even in translation, is quite gorgeous and sometimes ecstatic; it's very rare that a book so rewards slow reading. It's a long time since I enjoyed a work of fiction so completely. I can think of nothing in contemporary British writing that combines Michon's clarity of analysis of emotional states with the sheer beauty of his prose.

Michon is all but unknown in the UK. Perhaps this excellent translation of his most highly-regarded book will change things.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars small lives, important book 15 Oct. 2012
By monica - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
4 1/2 stars, though I'd give it 5 if I though it would encourage someone to read it. This book has won prizes, this translation won a big prize, Small Lives is well-known in France, it's worth three dozen Paul Austers, and it seems to be all but unheard-of in the English-speaking world.

Because it's been a while since I read it, this review won't have much detail. The book is about eight people living in deeply rural France. There are feuds, disappearances, disappointments. There is a death brought about by a man's refusal to admit to his illiteracy. A priest conducts services in an empty church. Happenings and doings and people about which the outside world knows nothing, cares nothing, but that are the world in these small lives. What Robb has to say about peasant life in The Discovery of France is brought to life here, but most of the events and interactions in the book would not seem alien to inhabitants of any rural area that's kept many of its old ways.

Small Lives is beautifully written. The people seem real (well, they are to a degree) and the places, both landscape and interiors, are evocative and exquisitely drawn. Michon is able to alter his style and tone seamlessly and appropriately and he always draws the reader along with him.

Because the book is apparently highly autobiographical, some of the lives are of those of Michon's family. It's natural that we should get to know the narrator/Michon, just as it's natural that in so small a settlement each person has a strong connection with the others. Gradually it's he who becomes the main character in the book, and that's the only quibble I have. The change in focus is smooth, the literary and personal reasons for the change are easy to understand, but I would rather have learned more about Father Bandy than Michon's broken love affair, more about Claudette than Michon's addiction, more about the field gone back to the wild than Michon's dead sister. It makes no sense, inasmuch as the writer's life has been eventful and turbulent and the lives of his other subjects were neither, but whilst Michon is always interesting to read, he's most interesting when delineating others' small lives. No doubt that's an idiosyncratic reaction and no doubt other readers will find the book richer and of greater depth when the story-teller becomes the story.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We're all ultimately a part of something bigger. 4 Sept. 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
We're all ultimately a part of something bigger. "Small Lives" is from acclaimed French author Pierre Michon, deftly translated into English by Jody Gladding and Elizabeth Deshays. The story follows a series of eight lives and how they are all intertwined with each other, Michon himself explores humanity through their lives, and begins to discover something about himself as he writes. Touching and inspiring writing, "Small Lives" is highly recommended to world fiction fans everywhere.
2 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable 4 Aug. 2012
By Kevan b. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this novel on Kindle based on its selection by my book group. I find the book is absolutely unreadable and suggest that potential purchasers sample the novel before committing. If you like books that have fifty word paragraphs and use expressions like "categorical voice" then this might be just the book for you! I believe, unlike the previous reviewer, that the translation is problematic.
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