Antoine Volodine, trans. from the French by Katina Rogers. . Dalkey Archive, $14.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-62897-040-1
Volodine's (Minor Angels) collection captures, in seven linked stories, the essence of tormented fictional European writers who challenge the preconceived notions of the profession. Standouts include "Mathias Olbane," which details the suicide contemplation of a skin-diseased ex-con who hasn't published so much as composed obsessive lists during his time in prison. Set in the near future, "The Strategy of Silence in the Work of Bogdan Tarassiev" traces the career of a reclusive crime writer whose notable stylistic tic is a "lack of variety in the names given to characters." The humorous "Acknowledgments" functions as a mockery of modern authors' smarmy tendency to express gratuity by challenging what is and isn't appropriate to the form. Those unfamiliar with the author's previous projects, written under several pseudonyms, will get little help from the interview opening the volume, in which, without providing sufficient context, Volodine refers to an ongoing literary movement he calls "post-exoticism." And though he places some of the fictional writers into the camp, nowhere in the collection does he provide a precise idea of its objectives or aims. Despite the murkiness of Volodine's literary mission, his textured portraits are convincing and well-rendered, and he has written the type of open-ended work that will capture the attention of lovers of lit crit as fiction. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
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