Time and the Maiden

Matthew Piepenburg, Author Lost Coast Press $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-882897-15-5
""With hands buried in the warm caca of his neighbor's bull terrier, Julien Brunnel recognized in one instant the justification of his last 16 years."" Thus first-time novelist Piepenburg introduces his hero (the son of a Proven al fertilizer salesman) to his heroine, Xenia von Elbing (a German aristocrat traveling with her family in France during the summer of 1913), in this embarrassingly straight-faced tale of love, death and doodoo. Teenaged Julien has a virtually uncontrollable penchant for ""shit-bagging"" (dropping excrement on unsuspecting passersby). Indeed, Julien's favorite pastime directs his destiny: Julien's mentor first notices the peasant boy when he swears in perfect German (learned by mimicking the angry shouts of his German victims), and Julien's first glimpse of Xenia occurs as he gathers fecal ammunition. After a handful of brief, public encounters as teenagers (during which Julien invariably commits the worst gaucheries), this latter-day Dante and Beatrice maintain a pure love that flies in the face of geography, history (WWI), even Xenia's ignorance of Julien's feelings (Xenia's mother waylays his letters for her own delectation). Seventy years spin past like cartoon frames before the couple are finally reunited; in the meantime, this malapropistic muddle inspires a kind of awe, as almost a parody of bad writing. If Piepenburg could stand a few French or German lessons from his polyglot hero, no one can teach this young author how to sling manure. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
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