PASSING TIME by Michel Butor


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A tantalizing, sometimes tiring, ultimately inconclusive and in that sense defeating experimental novel is just as subliminal in its technique as the earlier A Change of Heart (1959). Here, freighted with impressions, blurred by indirection and the superimposition of the past on the present, Jacques Revel, a young Frenchman in England for a year, records his stay in Bleston, intoning his dislike of this drab to desolate industrial city. While on the one hand he makes friends with James Jenkins, with whom he works, and with two sisters- Ann and Rose Bailey (and resists a guarded attraction to both), he also identifies his hatred of Bleston with a Negro- a chance encounter, and with his interest in the pseudonymously written The Bleston Murder. An acquaintance with this book's real author also results in his careless revelation of his name and is responsible for the ""accident"" which almost kills the writer; Revel continues to annotate and connect the unknowns and half truths, but leaves the country- and the reader- with little beyond the record of an alien's estrangement..... An ""auditing"" of experience which has earned a valid comparison with Nathalie Sarraute and which will indicate the restrictive nature of the market.

Pub Date: Dec. 28th, 1960
Publisher: Simon & Schuster