The Fountains of Neptune

Rikki Ducornet, Author Dalkey Archive Press $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-916583-96-5
In this allegorical novel--part absurdist fairy tale, part Mad Hatter's tea party--poet and novelist ( Entering Fire ) Ducornet renders a vexatiously baffling account of a mentally troubled childhood. Confined to an exotic spa, middle-aged Nicholas recreates for psychoanalyst/water therapist Venus Kaiserstiege his fantasies and obsessions, dreams that have occupied his subconscious during the several decades he has spent in the coma that mysteriously began when he was nine years old. In a flashback to early childhood, Nicholas recalls a hodgepodge of adventures in a French seaside cottage, pre-WW I, where noisy nursery-tale personages (Other Mother, Toujours-La, Totor) cook him delicious dishes and tell stories. A prevailing metaphor is the sea with its marine denizens, e.g., the old sailor, Shark and Cod's wife. Nicholas's analyst calls him Froschlein (tadpole), though he is also known as the Sandman in a case study devoted to his life. Eventually the reason for Nicholas's madness emerges: when he was two, his adulterous mother Odile was murdered with her lover. Both had drowned. In the novel's mythology the sea suggests the amniotic waters of the maternal womb. Ducornet, whose poetic imagination has vividness and charm, acknowledges a debt to the work of clinician Oliver Sacks, but her writing lacks his clarity. Ultimately her novel capsizes under the weight of its own playfulness. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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FORMATS
Paperback - 220 pages - 978-1-56478-005-8
Paperback - 220 pages - 978-0-7710-2897-7
Hardcover - 220 pages - 978-0-7710-2896-0
Open Ebook - 126 pages - 978-1-56478-990-7
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