cover image Landscapes After the Battle

Landscapes After the Battle

Juan Goytisolo. Seaver Books, $17.95 (159pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-0393-2

This engaging, gritty satire by Goytisolo, an outstanding Spanish novelist who left during Franco's regime, offers a skewed tour of the tough new Paris street life radiating outward from the neighborhood of the Sentier metro. In 78 rapid-fire vignettes, the hero as ""monster'' in trench coat and felt hat sets out from his studio on the Rue Poissonniere to indulge in his ``maniacal, obsessive, almost canine nosing about.'' He prowls for little girls. He studies the subway and the movie-house, caves where weird fantasies are played out. He favors pop culture: the waxwork museums over the Louvre and the graffiti that reveal the city's foreign influx. The Sentier quarter is a microcosm of Paris, with its milling, dark-skinned populace of Arabs, Turks and Africans, subject to grueling poverty and police harassment. Around the city hovers the xenophobic spirit of ``the commandos of Charles Martel,'' who centuries ago drove back the Saracen hordes. Everywhere, scraps of history and the classics are snipped and glued into Goytisolo's fresh, absurdist text. (May)