97,196 Words: Essays

Emmanuel Carrère, trans. from the French by John Lambert. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-17820-8
This selection of short nonfiction by Carrère (The Kingdom) offers a fine overview of his career, with essays spanning 1990–2016. Carrère’s style mixes research and reportage with personal anecdote—he has a keen wit, unrelenting self-honesty, and a touch of naughtiness. Frustratingly for his longtime readers, many of the best pieces here—works about the murderer Romand, the Russian dissident Limonov, Philip K. Dick, Luke the Evangelist, and Carrère’s firsthand experience of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami—cover subjects also tackled in his previously published long-form books. Fortunately, there are several other standouts: “Nine Columns for an Italian Magazine” delves into Carrère’s thoughts on dating, with an increasingly humorous meta aspect, and “In Search of the Dice Man” details Carrère’s encounters with the elusive Luke Rhinehart, pseudonymic author of the 1971 book The Dice Man, the “object of a minor but persistent cult.” Later works take on the migrant crisis in France and the Davos economic summit, to mixed effect. An insightful profile of French president Emmanuel Macron closes the collection. Carrère is at his best in longer form, where his idiosyncrasies can rise to the fore, but this is an excellent launching point to begin exploring his work. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 07/05/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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