cover image The House on Moon Lake

The House on Moon Lake

Francesca Duranti. Random House (NY), $15.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-394-55037-4

This is a work whose imaginative power is so intense that the line between truth and fiction, reality and dream cannot be drawn. The protagonist, Fabrizio Garrone, is an impecunious aristocrat earning a meager living as a translator. He comes across a reference to an obscure novel, The House on Moon Lake, by Fritz Oberhofer, a little-known German writer. Tracking down the book, Fabrizio becomes obsessed by it. His enchantment with the original pervades his translation, so that in a profound sense he becomes the author, simply writing in a different language. So successful is the finished product that the publisher demands a biography of Oberhofer, which Fabrizio hastens to supply. But because Oberhofer disappeared during the last three years of his lifethe years in which he wrote his now-famous novelFabrizio invents a series of events, as well as a mistress, Maria Lettner. Soon, Fabrizio receives a telephone call from a woman claiming to be Maria Lettner's granddaughter, who invites him to a house on Moon Lake to read the correspondence between Fritz and Maria. Fabrizio acceptsand enters his fiction. And with a shiver of excitement and anticipation, the reader slips in beside him. (September 22)