When to Go into the Water

Lawrence Sutin, Author . Sarabande $15.95 (152p) ISBN 978-1-932511-72-7

In discrete, delightfully composed vignettes, Sutin, a biographer of Aleister Crowley and Philip K. Dick, tells the rags-to-riches story of a French peasant farmer. Born in 1900 on a farm in eastern France, Hector de Saint-Aureole, the humble protagonist of this clever pseudobiography, gravitates first to Paris, where he works as a renderer in an abattoir, then to London, where he becomes a barman in Bloomsbury. Luck strikes the young man in the form of a friendship with a Scotsman who dies and leaves Hector his considerable estate: “a fortune to assure a lifetime of ease and choice.” Hector sets out to explore the world, determined to leave a record of his passage, which takes the shape of his life's opus, When to Go into the Water . Sutin alternates this factual-sounding narrative of Hector's journeys with more contemporary dispatches about readers who have over the decades come upon Hector's work, e.g., “a fading male movie star of the 1990s.” It's fascinating to watch Sutin turn his biographer's wiles toward fiction, and the result is charmingly original and intelligent. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
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