The Missing Pieces

Henri Lefebvre, trans. from the French by David L. Sweet. Semiotext(e) (MIT, dist.), $13.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-58435-159-7
Each sentence or phrase in this haunting project from French poet and publisher Lefebvre (not to be confused with the Marxist philosopher) describes something lost, erased, destroyed, or otherwise unfinished within the life of an artist. Some seem frivolous: “Tintin’s bedroom doesn’t appear in a single album by Hergé.” Others are serious: “The composer Max Deutsch mercilessly destroyed his musical scores, having chosen to leave no trace other than teaching.” A few subjects are terribly sad, and very famous: the ancient library of Alexandria; the Archaeological Museum in Baghdad, the art that perished with the World Trade Center, and a broken litany of lives, books, manuscripts, and visual art destroyed during WWII. The destroyed volumes of Thomas Mann’s diary are there, as are Sylvia Plath’s never found, perhaps never written, sequels to The Bell Jar. David Sweet provides clear, idiomatic translation of the work Lefebvre published, in installments, 10 years ago. These postmodern memento mori may lose their force read all at once. On the other hand, gathered all in one place, unrelenting, they feel more like the American conceptual poetry of recent years. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/20/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
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