Crossings

Alex Landragin. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-25904-2
Landragin careens through time, space, and multiple genres in his ambitious, sparkling debut. The reader is given a choice in the preface by the first of many narrators, a Paris bookbinder who claims to have discovered a manuscript: read it cover to cover, or follow mysterious instructions for zigzagging through three separate narratives. One of these is purportedly a lost story written by the poet Charles Baudelaire. Another follows doomed lovers, a mysterious woman named Madeleine and a man who may or may not be the German-Jewish writer Walter Benjamin, searching for Baudelaire’s lost manuscript on the eve of the Nazi occupation of Paris. The third is told by a pre-colonial south sea island magus who travels through history via the souls of others, including Baudelaire and Madeleine, to link the three stories together. Landragin colors each section with playful references to other historical figures, from French navigator Etienne Marchand to Coco Chanel and Arthur Koestler. While tacking back and forth through the three narratives is going to require more effort than some readers will be willing to give, the author has a talent for injecting intrigue and answers into his literary puzzle at all the right moments while deepening themes of memory and migration. Landragin’s seductive literary romp shines as a celebration of the act of storytelling. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/22/2020
Release date: 07/28/2020
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 384 pages
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-250-79781-0
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