cover image Not a Clue

Not a Clue

Chloé Delaume, trans. from the French by Dawn M. Cornelio. Univ. of Nebraska, $19.95 trade paper (246p) ISBN 978-1-4962-0089-1

Delaume’s first novel to be translated into English is a sly and thorny work that loosely takes the form of a game of Clue, and even more loosely takes the form of a novel. The six murder suspects are psychiatric patients in Paris’s Saint-Anne’s Hospital, and each gets a few chapters providing their backgrounds, how they wound up institutionalized, and attributing to them a name from the board game. For instance, the chapters labeled Miss Scarlett describe a “gold digger” named Aline, who works her way up from an intern to the mistress of the head of the company before losing her memory in an accident. The novel is narrated, in part, by an “omnipotent narratrix” who occasionally interrupts the story, much to the consternation of the “Fictional Characters’ Union” and “the entire staff of Not a Clue,” who create a petition to stop her. Throughout, Delaume experiments with various narrators, forms, and typographies and employs odd grammar, surrealism, philosophical meditations, cultural allusions, and numerous metafictional techniques (Delaume appears as a character). What saves the novel from being a mere exercise is the depth of the characters, who anchor in some reality the amusing and confusing novel they find themselves in, resulting in an alternately frustrating and exhilarating outing. [em](Dec.) [/em]