Hold Fast Your Crown

Yannick Haenel, trans. from the French by Teresa Lavender Fagen. Other Press, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59051-975-2
The delightfully deluded protagonist of Haenal’s latest (following The Messenger) juggles high and pop culture references with aplomb and a light touch. Having just completed his masterpiece, an epic screenplay called The Great Melville, the unnamed narrator decides that the only suitable director for the project is Michael Cimino, director of The Deer Hunter, because his life “wasn’t unlike Melville’s.” It just so happens the screenwriter has acquired Cimino’s contact information, and their short meeting sets him off on a crazy odyssey, which includes the de facto adoption of a docile Dalmatian named Sabbat and an eventual meeting with French actress Isabelle Huppert, the leading lady in Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate. There is no lack of incident, but one hesitates to call it a coherent plot. The constants are the narrator’s indomitable passion for his artistic vision, however bizarre, and Haenal’s artistic boldness. His Cimino, meanwhile, is not just a comic device but a fully realized character. Near the end, there is a lovely and surprisingly serious chapter built around a funeral, with a thoughtful contemplation on the nature of Christ. This is a stimulating novel, full of mischief and clever curveballs. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/29/2019
Release date: 04/02/2019
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-1-59051-976-9
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