La Superba

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, trans. from the Dutch by Michele Hutchinson. Deep Vellum (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (418p) ISBN 978-1-941920-22-0
In Pfeijffer's novel, an aimless, unhappy writer named Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer wanders around Genoa, noting that "In a city of straight lines, people are like electrons in a copper wire—fast, interchangeable and invisible... you can never find the same place twice. But because no one can, everyone wanders around those same alleyways all day. Some spend their whole lives wandering around here." This labyrinthine feeling—reflecting both the immigrant experience and the city itself—frames the story, which the narrator channels into a long letter home. The story begins when Ilja, who has lived in Genoa for five years, discovers a woman's leg on the street and develops an erotic attraction to it. This spirals into a search through Genoa's darkest and most secret corners for the most beautiful woman in Genoa, "the fantasy in which I have become more and more lost." The novel suffers from overblown performances of masculinity and ego that come across as more internalized than experimental. The writing is lush and dreamlike, capturing the Old World feel of the city, and the story actually throws in some wild twists, but some readers may feel battered by the exhausting, unrelenting stream of consciousness. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/25/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
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