cover image Compact


Maurice Roche, Author, Mark Polizzotti, Designed by Dalkey Archive Press $19.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-916583-29-3

A dying, sightless man lies unmoving on a bed, his body glorious with tattoos. This is the paradigm of the self at the center of Roche's avant-garde novel, published in 1966 and acclaimed by French critics as pointng the way for a post- nouveau roman school. ``Embodied in one's own body, one closes in on oneself.'' Yet the man experiences sounds and smells, translating them into imagined journeys to other cities. The visits of women, an inflatable sex doll, and his own touch afford him erotic sensations, sometimes expressed in musical terms. His Japanese doctor hopes eventually to add the man's skin to his wallpaper collection. Roche's textual experiments result in a linguistic montage of double columns of print, black or blank spaces, and scraps of Greek, Hebrew and Cyrillic; typographic tricks include musical notations, Braille in domino shapes, and a mileage scale. With Roche's method deliberately frustrating the narrative flow, Compact is not for everyone, but should please fanciers of the literary underground. (October)