cover image Quicksand


Emmanuel Bove. Marlboro Press, $18.95 (187pp) ISBN 978-0-910395-69-4

Bridet, the timid, melancholy protagonist of Bove's (1898-1945) searing novella set in 1940, four months after France's defeat, is avid to flee from Lyon to England. Resigned about leaving his ``pro-Hitler'' wife, Yolande, a milliner whom he still loves, former journalist Bridet devises a ruse to gain safe conduct abroad by feigning support for the collaborationist Petain regime. Bridet goes to Vichy, where he is shunted with amiable contempt through a long string of officials, causing his paranoia to grow. Is he protesting too much? Are they all conspiring to give him the runaround? Are his papers in order? Above all, what is the role of his wife? Yolande behaves ambiguously throughout. After Bridet shifts strategy, planning to slip from Paris across the Channel, he is arrested several times, endures interrogations ending in a swift trial and internment at Venoix--where he receives a cheeful visit from Yolande. The ominous world of the tale shrinks to a futile maze of hotel rooms, cafes, streets, offices and the internment camp. The powerful denouement confirms the crushing of an individual in a modern nightmare of bureaucracy and chance, but allows Bridet's humanity to prevail. (Oct.)