Another November

Roger Grenier, Author, Alice Kaplan, Translator University of Nebraska Press $50 (86p) ISBN 978-0-8032-2172-7
Set in the decaying French resort town of Pau, this quiet, ascetic novel from the famed French writer tells the story of two men, a Nazi collaborator and the unnamed narrator whose life is bound up with his. At the novel's center is the Villa Rapallo, a splendid home of the wealthy Merline family, which the narrator first enters as a playmate for the family's only son, Charles. Overweight, cowardly and extravagantly spoiled, Charles nonetheless manages to attract friends and, later, beautiful women, who stand by him, no matter what his trespasses. Even the narrator, who views Charles with increasing jealousy and contempt, and who later engages in a long love affair with Charles's wife, never quite abandons him. When Charles wants to avoid obligatory work service in Germany, the narrator procures him false papers at great personal risk, only to discover that the Merlines have collaborated in exchange for Charles's freedom. Even so, the narrator remains in contact with Charles--who, following his postwar imprisonment, dissolves into a failed, dishonest businessman--and can't help regarding him, and the vanished elegance of the Villa Rapallo, with affection. Grenier tells his story through a series of distilled, delicately etched moments, which evoke a melancholy and profoundly nostalgic air while keeping us at a distance from the ghostly men and women who breathe it. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Paperback - 86 pages - 978-0-8032-7072-5
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