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Customer Review

on 24 June 2011
The book is an experiment in writing. Using the structure of a guided tour taken through a reclusive scientist's estate, Roussel tells several stories. The biggest problem is that the result is an excessive reliance on detailed, literal description. There is little characterisation. Roussel explained that he had a method for writing which was essentially a mechanical one. This shows in the rather lifeless and tedious prose used to explain, among others, a tank occupied by racing sea-horses, a glass building that encloses re-enactments of dead people's tragic lives and a machine that makes a huge picture out of old teeth. The book is a formal exercise in the construction of a narrative and its interest starts and stops there. The only positive point I can make is that the glass building described by Roussel seems very, very similar to Mies Van Der Rohe's Farnsworth house or Philip Johnson's house at New Canaan, Connecticut.
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