Where Are You Dying Tonight?
Many of the requisite ingredients for metafiction are here: the mysterious appearance of an orphaned boy at a middle - class lycee , speaking not a word of French, with ``blond hair falling onto his shoulders like a young girl's,'' hailing, rumor has it, from Latvia, and for unknown reasons a protectorate of the State. The boy accepts the name Stanislaus; of a sudden, he masters a perfect Gallic tongue and grows up to scandalize and amaze his countrymen with novels and romans a clef about women of every stripe. His best friend from the lycee is his publisher and his brother-in-law, whose son serves as the book's narrator. Despite this postmodernist cast, the novel, published in France in 1981, neither rises above the conceits of fiction nor questions them, even though the narrative is obsessed with what is fiction, what is real. Instead, the reader is dragged through the narrator's excessive fawning upon the thoughts, works and boorish affairs of Stanislaus. Most incomprehensible, though, is why the narrator, who inherits the publishing house and the task of tending to Stanislaus's debatable genius, remains a cipher. Though at first readers may see obvious parallels with Nabokov's Pale Fire , they will shortly be disabused by Deon's leaden touch. (July)