cover image My Friends

My Friends

Emmanuel Bove. Carcanet Press,, $0 (150pp) ISBN 978-0-85635-643-8

This wistful, sad little French novel from the 1920s is here translated into English for the first time. Bove, who died in 1945, has regularly been admired by other writers but never by a wide audience. His melancholy clown, Baton, is a damaged veteran of the Great War, living from hand to mouth in the dank rooming houses, filthy soup kitchens, grubby cafes and drab streets of the Paris no tourist knows. He longs only for a friend whom he can love, and who will love him; but in a sequence of accidental encountersgenerally with gross, coarse, unfeeling peoplehis life is briefly jarred but never significantly altered. A man of exquisite sensibilities, hoping that one day, against all odds, something splendid will happen, Baton finds the doors remain shut against him. If Marcel Marceau's eternally yearning little man could remove his mask and find a voice, he might look and sound like this one. (March 20)