Red Haze

Christian Gailly, Author, Brian Evenson, Translator, David Beus, Translator , trans. from the French by Brian Evenson and David Beus. Univ. of Nebraska Press $40 (112p) ISBN 978-0-8032-2198-7 ISBN 978-0-8032-7112-8

After invoking Nabokov in an epigraph, Gailly (The Passion of Martin Fissel-Brandt ) introduces a thoroughly unsympathetic, Humbert-like narrator in this clever little novel about obsession and envy. Recently cured stutterer and unemployed biologist Sylvère Fonda commiserates with Lucien ("not my friend, just an experiment in hatred"), a Lovelace-like figure who has had his penis bitten off by Rebecca Lodge moments after he raped and threatened to kill her. Too diminished and depressed to do anything himself, Lucien convinces Sylvère to travel to Denmark, find Rebecca and speak with her on his behalf; Sylvère does go, but out of curiosity and spite. Once there, however, Sylvère finds himself falling in love with the utterly unavailable Rebecca, a self-assured widow of a handsome naval officer. The third of Gailly's 10 novels to be published in English, this mordant book won France's Prix France Culture. It shares Nabokov's love of doubling, sly clues and base emotions and motivations, but doesn't quite manage his delicious despicability; even after a final, deadly confrontation with Lucien, Sylvère remains a bundle of repetitive affects and affectations rather than a full-blown character. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/18/2005
Release date: 00/00/0000
Paperback - 108 pages - 978-0-8032-7112-8
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