Matter-of-fact grotesqueries and oppressive dankness take on a certain weird power in this 1965 work--a nightmarish allegory-fantasy--by the author of the far more agreeable Rosa and Mademoiselle B. Aspiring writer Simeon, whose life has been ""one long laceration"" (there are hints of a concentration camp where his sister died), becomes the first visiting stranger to violate the fetid tranquility of a primitive European mountain village where oddity rules: the only food is lentils; the only recreation is mutual blackhead-squeezing; and the only sources of heat are live animals worn underneath clothing. Despite the Neanderthal hostility of the natives, Simeon stays--long enough to watch the awful rainy season switch to the worse freezing season (he's appointed rain-gauge reader in a mass urination ceremony), long enough to have his infected foot amputated by a munching donkey, and long enough to copulate publicly with his beloved Clara only to lose yet another organ (Clara has hidden a toothy frog in her privates). All this leaves Simeon no time to write, so he's willing to lead the villagers on a search for the warmer, rice-paddled land that (they believe) lies beyond the mountain. Pons populates the foul hamlet with enough gargoylish peasants and gross rituals to be anybody's metaphor for the stinking real world, but he's wise enough to keep his messages mum and his prose neat and straight. Still, this is minimally appealing and emotionally vacant stuff, little more than a solid writer's exercise in verminous imagination.