THE LOST PROVINCES by Stephen Glazier


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It's 1908: Clayton Peavey, a young American on leave from Harvard, arrives in Paris with vague artistic intentions. In a cafe, he meets Guillaume MalaimÉ (read Apollinaire), poet and art critic--and together they explore the world of the Cubist painters, the avant-garde poets, the Ballets-Russes. They're also together in attendance at a street-performance by a family of saltimbanques: acrobats (suggested by Apollinaire's famous poem, ""Un Fantôme de NuÉes""). And during the show, in Glazier's invention, one of the saltimbanques is mysteriously murdered. From then on, Glazier gives Guillaume and Peavey their head as a team of detectives; off they go in search of why the saltimbanque was murdered and what the miniature African mask filled with gunpowder he was wearing around his neck signified. So the ill-paired duo travels to: an occultist's sÉance; Morocco (base for Anglo-German machinations against France); London; and Alsace-Lorraine (the ""lost provinces"" of the title, where the saltimbanques hail from and to which they are revanchist-ly pledged). And, all the while, first-novelist Glazier is busily stuffing gouts of history down the throat of each chapter, making for a heavy, pedantic book too vigorously churned into a mÉlange. For a literary re-creation of the period on somewhat similar lines, William Wiser's recent Disappearances is much better--and even as straight historical-adventure entertainment, Glazier's book is not a quarter of the fun it might have been.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1981
Publisher: Avon