No Song, But Silence

Helene Le Beau, Author, Sheila Fischman, Translator Coach House Press $12.95 (175p) ISBN 978-0-88910-467-9
Short, blunt sentences filled with misery and spite characterize this melancholy recollection of childhood. The memories begin in the womb as Stephane tears her placenta to shreds so it will be useless for grafts on burn victims (``I knew I was going to be robbed of some flesh, there was a smell of swindle''). Although a girl, Stephane was given the ``expected one's'' name, a clear signal of a displaced world to come. Her spitefulness is inborn not the consequence of her upbringing, still there are enough disasters in her life to deepen that malice. Deformity, abandonment, withdrawal, insanity, and the deaths of her aunt, her father, and her great grandmother (the last of syphilis) are a few of her experiences. It is her young sister's death, however, that embitters her most. Innocent Malou, a premature baby, is buried in a hole, and God has a lot to answer for. Stephane then tries to protect her other siblings--even from their parents' love because it won't endure. Her reflections throughout are always this dark, comparing the swollen belly of a dead dog to her mother's breast when nursing, watching a mosquito take her blood then crushing it to make a red flower on her arm. As she says of herself at the end ``My sorrow is infinitely complicated,'' and, given her world view, it will also be unending. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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