Three Bedrooms in Manhattan (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – 1 Sep 2009
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"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
About the Author
Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was born in Liège, Belgium. In 1923 he moved to Paris, where under various pseudonyms he became a highly successful author of pulp fiction. In the early 1930s, Simenon emerged as a writer under his own name, gaining renown for his detective stories featuring Inspector Maigret. He also began to write his psychological novels, or romans durs. He wrote nearly two hundred books under his own name and became the worldwide best-selling.
Joyce Carol Oates, the Roger S. Berlind Professor of Humanities at Princeton, is the author most recently of the forthcoming novel Little Bird of Hope.
Marc Romano is a writer living in New York City.
Lawrence Blochman (1900-1975) was an American writer and a prominent translator of Georges Simenon.
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Top customer reviews
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" and almost as good.
The story is about a French man who meets an Austrian woman in New York in the 1940s. 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' text 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.
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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