Aerea in the Forests of Manhattan

Emmanuel Hocquard, Author, Lydia Davis, Translator Marlboro Press $16.95 (119p) ISBN 978-0-910395-88-5
It's not only his fondness for Cranach the Younger's painting of Eve and his telltale aversion to fruit that identify this French novel's narrator, Adam, with his namesake. His friends propose that he lacks a soul, that he is an ``empty'' man with an ``incapacity for living''--marks, perhaps, of the first of a species, a creature without a history. As such, Adam is susceptible not to facts so much as to colors and images, but Hocquard doesn't describe these with enough poetry or universality to ensnare the reader. Unlike his namesake, this Adam has several Eves on several islands--in Turkey and Greece, off the coast of Africa and, above all, on Manhattan. But his American Eve (the Aerea of the title) won't commit because, she says, ``I would never be able to marry a man who was satisfied with so few words and so few ideas.'' The real trouble with the novel, though, is that Hocquard gives Adam a damn sight too many words--and tedious ones they are: ``Navigation is a disquieting art, June, but on that gloomy art depends the life of an island. The shipwright and the knacker begin their work by felling trees and animals, in the red of birth, the red of the slaughterhouse and the shipyard.'' (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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