François Dominique, trans. from the French by Richard Sieburth and Howard Limoli. Bellevue, $16.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-942658-78-8
French writer Dominique’s meandering English-language debut, first published in 1992, explores the insurmountable distance between words and the things they describe. The narrator, who shares the author’s name, begins with a strange, compelling ode to the Aseroë mushroom (“I see her from a distance, I recognize her, I approach her and bend down over her and in a soft voice speak the words that suit her, the name she bears. She immediately starts to blush”). This love prompts an unusual experiment: the narrator seeks to find how fungi, with their primordial beginnings, could elucidate the limitations of language. However, the narrator quickly descends into madness after inhaling the Aseroë’s noxious odors, and the enthralling encounters with the mushroom end with the first chapter. The rest of the book consists of a series of tenuously connected meditations on the failure of human expression, ranging from Rimbaud’s death, Giorgione’s The Tempest, the Holocaust, Orpheus’s poetry, the choreographer Hideyuki Yano, a little girl who urinates on herself in a cafe, and the possibility of writing a “silent book,” all of which falter compared to the promising opening. The narrator’s mad musings on language read like an artifact from critical theory’s halcyon days. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/02/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-942658-79-5
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