cover image Rules of the Game: Scratches: A Self-Portrait

Rules of the Game: Scratches: A Self-Portrait

Michel Leiris. Paragon House Publishers, $22.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-1-55778-399-8

This confessional autobiography by Leiris, French anthropologist, surrealist poet and critic, often seems like one more exercise in French intellectual gamesmanship. Originally published in 1948, it's filled with baroque, convoluted sentences as Leiris obsessively analyzes himself, his childhood dreams and his associations to scores of words and phrases. Yet readers who stay the course will find some reward in this verbal thicket as Leiris, who died last year at the age of 89, offers occasional indelible reflections on gnomes, photography, war, Stravinsky, hedgehogs and anything else that enters his field of consciousness. In this first of four volumes, Leiris recollects his youth, life in Paris under the German occupation and travels in North Africa. (Nov.)