cover image Night Departure: And, No Place (Case Dismissed)

Night Departure: And, No Place (Case Dismissed)

Emmanuel Bove. Four Walls Eight Windows, $14.95 (467pp) ISBN 978-0-941423-98-4

Written shortly before he died in July 1945, the last works by the prolific French author of Quicksand really had to be published together. It's not just that they make a continuous narrative, but had Night Departure been published alone, it would have been strangely un-Bovian. That said, they do go on too long, despite Volk's graceful translation. Hemmed in by indecision and stultifying deliberation, Bove's heros generally find themselves sucked backwards by their inability to move ahead. In Night Departure, Rene de Talhouet, a prisoner of the phony war, arranges to escape from Briberbach camp with 14 fellow inmates. While de Talhouet waffles a bit between a desire to insure his own safety and his responsibilities to his cohorts, he is largely decisive, killing two German guards when necessary and struggling back to Paris. In No Place, though, de Talhouet is frozen by paranoia. Sure that he will be arrested, he makes elaborate plans for escape. He scurries back and forth across Paris and its environs, unable to trust anyone, and his ill-disguised mistrust alienates potential well-wishers. ``The problem with thinking too much,'' he says, ``is that in the end you never do anything and you always look suspicious.'' Meditations on freedom, will and self-determination, these novels also give insight into the French attitude toward the German occupation. (June)