cover image Adam Haberberg

Adam Haberberg

Yasmina Reza. Alfred A. Knopf, $19.95 (145pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-4315-6

French playwright and novelist Reza (Desolation) wryly channels the thoughts of the titular depressed, unhappily married 47-year-old writer: he has just been diagnosed by his optometrist with partial thrombosis and probable glaucoma, while his wife, Irene, an engineer, seems to no longer love or care for him. With obsessions about his mortality, marriage, and failed book crashing about his head, Adam finds himself watching the ostriches in Paris's Jardin des Plantes, periodically cell-phoning his contentedly-coupled friend Albert. Recognizing Adam in the park, Marie-Thérèse Lyoc, with her bags full of the merchandise she sells to zoos and amusement parks, is energetic and talkative; in lycée, she was the invisible, faceless slave to another girl Adam loved. Out of grim resignation, Adam agrees to drive back with this open, talkative ""nauseatingly robust ghost from the past"" to her apartment in the suburbs while Marie-Thérèse cooks dinner for him, and eventually shares with him a letter that reveals how she once pined for him. This revelation, 30-years-ripe, paralyzes him. In her penetrating, repetitive monologue, Reza collapses Adam's entire sense of himself, and renders his ordinariness touching, even majestic.