cover image Disconnection


Claude Ollier. Dalkey Archive Press, $19.95 (127pp) ISBN 978-0-916583-47-7

A veteran of the French ``Nouveau Roman,'' Ollier ( The Mis-en-Scene ) has deliberately employed an unpolished, often oblique style to deal with the incomprehensible: life after a Third (one assumes nuclear) World War. The author builds his novel around two narratives. The first, told in the third person, concerns Martin, a young Frenchman mobilized by the Germans at the end of WW II to work in a munitions factory in Nuremburg. The second, set in the 1990s, is recounted by a nameless French writer living in a small village, listlessly writing a radio play that will never be broadcast. The stories of these two men are disconnected by design; while unsure whether the narrator is an older version of the teenage Martin, readers may suspect that Ollier has juxtaposed the stories to create a sort of historical parallel--a WW III hinging on the unresolved conflicts of the previous conflagration. For Martin, the war is a time of community, companionship, danger. The protagonist of the second narrative, passively enduring shortages and a vengeful, encroaching nature, is merely waiting out the end of civilization. In essence, the novel does not project the emotional impact it seems to promise, its disconnected quality mainly due to the author's intentional distance from his material. (Dec.)