THE BOOK OF FLIGHTS: An Adventure Story by J.M.G. Le Clezio

THE BOOK OF FLIGHTS: An Adventure Story

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The intimidatingly gifted young French author (The Interrogation, 1964; Terra Amata, 1969) has this time produced an anti-novel whose visual textures and, to an extent, method resemble midphasc Goddard. The eye slides over impervious surfaces of chrome, signboards, faces and is sucked into obscurely wasted and weighted landscapes; transitions are lost, and where they might have been are lists, poems, and formally headed passages of ""Self-Criticism,"" which are really about the perdurability of ideas, words, novels -- a whole culture that will not shut its mouth. History, geography, and human relationship are denied; the hero, Young Man Hogan, simply appears in a succession of intensified environments -- hyperboles, one thinks, till they unfold in literal terms -- which mirror the drift of the interposed monologues. The flights, inward and outward, are toward an ideal point where meaning and meaninglessness might converge -- hence the exoticism and the insistence on strictly what is perceived. But it is a philosophical stalemate between Hogan and the phenomena that he wants both to inhabit and to keep at bay. The burden falls back on the senses, and without ""significance"" as a buffer, the senses are scoured. Flight consequently is from the very irritants that are the novel's substance, and the book itself seems to recoil from scene to scene. The writing is extraordinary.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1971
Publisher: Atheneum