cover image In the Time of the Blue Ball

In the Time of the Blue Ball

Manuela Draeger, trans. from the French by Brian Evenson. Dorothy (Small Press, dist.), $16 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-0-9844693-3-8

Draeger (the pseudonym of a French writer) populates this postapocalyptic world with gleefully surreal creatures and ideas. In three short stories with a distinct Murakami vibe, hapless investigator Bobby Potemkine threads his way through his city’s meteor-shredded ruins to find out which of several women named Lili has really invented fire, what to do about an angry noodle named Auguste Diodon, and how to rescue the many baby pelicans that litter the roads. Every page introduces another curiosity in Draeger’s cabinet of wonders. Bobby’s dog, Djinn, marries “an immense polar ratinette,” an animal with the physique of a carpet, and he plays the nanoctiluphe, an instrument which, “as everybody knows, possesses rosewood cranks and nickel-plated pistons.” Bobby’s resignation sometimes rises to the status of philosophy, as when he revises his view of a child-eating tiger after remembering that Djinn once accidentally ingested a musically talented fly: “It can happen to anyone,” he muses, “to be eaten by someone, or to eat someone.” Fans of tightly plotted novels may chafe, but readers with a taste for the eccentric will discover a great many unexpected literary pleasures. Ages 12–up. (Dec.)