cover image Nevermore


Marie Redonnet. Bison Books, $12 (125pp) ISBN 978-0-8032-8959-8

In 1994, Nebraska released Redonnet's triptych (Hotel Splendid, Forever Valley and Rose Mellie Rose); in 1995, Candy Story; and this year, Nevermore, the last of the five short novels currently available by the French writer. They are all very much of a piece: claustrophobic, timeless, usually set in some slightly surreal, always seedy place (a hotel in a swamp; a corrupt seaside resort). Here these settings are the Fuch Circus and the Babylon nightclub in San Rosa, a vaguely frontier-Western town gone to pot and haunted by nearby sinister ""camps"" where the prodigal deputy, Willy Bost, lost both parents. The Babylon and the Fuch Circus are sites for murders, intrigues and secrets revealed, and there is an appropriately freakish cast of characters--the evil nightclub owner, Cassy Mac Key, and her mute, dwarf sidekick; the new chanteuse; Nina, the wise Fat Lady; Goppy, the hunchback; and Lizzie Malik, the one-time acrobat whose career was ended by a sawed-through rope. There's some grizzly sex, but there's also a love story that ends well and a corrupt political race that does not. But mostly there's Redonnet's writing. Wry and darkly detached, it's like a good French noir film--the cutting, the angles and especially the shadows can make it hard to follow, but they also make it undeniably and eerily evocative. (Sept.)