Blue Self-Portrait

Noémi Lefebvre, trans. from the French by Sophie Lewis. Transit (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-945492-10-5
Lefebvre’s furiously cerebral first novel to be translated into English takes place entirely during a 90-minute flight from Berlin to Paris. But the setting’s static and narrow confines belie the inner expansiveness of its unnamed narrator, whose thoughts propel the narrative. She obsessively returns to an encounter with a pianist-composer she met in Germany, gradually uncovering more detail as she loops through her memories: she met the pianist-composer in a café; he had recently seen an exhibition called “Music and the Third Reich”; they visited a cinema in the Sony Center to see a spy flick, as well as Bertolt Brecht’s house. The narrator also recalls her mother-in-law’s diagnosing her as “not-caring,” which, though it may be true in her relationships, isn’t true in her inner monologue. Lefebvre’s prose moves fluidly, recalling the works of Clarice Lispector and Claire-Louise Bennett. Full of great lines (“A bastard of a dad will make scum of his son”; “I was floating too thinking nothing but fetal thoughts but that’s pure invention, I’ve no fetal memories and that’s fine by me”), this is a probing, wild, and fascinating novel. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
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