Email this review


Another work from the erstwhile dean of the French ""new novel,"" impeccably skilled, admittedly tiresome to some. One enters here a near-hallucinogenic kaleidoscope of overlapping narratives, surrealistically delivered and ingeniously seamless. Disorientation of the reader is guaranteed as Robbe. Grillet's higher epistemological explorations get underway: the narrator, sitting at a rusty table at an abandoned cafe, sees a naked girl go by on a horse, sees men go after her with rifles, then watches a young prostitute walk along the beach. Seized by the police, and later imprisoned, the narrator seems variously to be also the doctor-impersonator who drugs and abducts a lovely girl; the forensic pathologist and mad doctor, Dr. Morgan; a priest who snuffs out candles by putting them into a drugged communicant's vagina; and an inspector named (it seems) Francisco France. The girl on the horse, who may or may not be the prostitute on the beach, is overlapped with the candle-deflowered communicant, with the abducted girl, with a flower girl named Temple, with a girl named Natalie, with a girl who has been hanged in an abandoned fish cannery, etc. (""No, I'm not mad, I'm well aware that that Natalie is someone else. I am Lord G.'s latest wife, Lady Caroline, nÉe de Saxe""). Add a mysterious door (to a prison? opera house? insane asylum? church?), an apple hidden among the flower-vender's roses, a blue shoe, a red shoe, a piece of rope, a false beer can (that may have contained ""a white powder""), orgasms, violations, and injections (""No! No! No injections, I beg of you!""). At end, a chronological wrap-up that, of course, doesn't quite wrap up. The aims here are serious, the pyrotechnic methods--well, energetically fatigued and somehow worn, however brilliant. ""Are you tired?"" asks the ""interrogator."" ""Yes,"" says the narrator, ""a bit, inevitably: every day repeating these same old stories. . .for nothing. . .

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1986
ISBN: 0802152007
Publisher: Grove