cover image The Sextine Chapel

The Sextine Chapel

Herve Le Tellier, trans. from the French by Ian Monk. Dalkey Archive, $14.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-56478-575-6

In this clever literary bonbon, 26 characters get it on in 78 vignettes, ranging from the banal to the raunchy. Each sexual encounter is described in a short paragraph, followed by a glimpse into the thoughts of one of the partners. Their exploits, when plotted onto a diagram (as shown by Le Tellier in the final pages) form a pattern that is supposedly worthy of a chapel's interior. At its best, Le Tellier's English-language debut seduces the reader with its wry wit: "%E2%80%98Oh look! The spires of Chartres Cathedral!' and its competing erections immediately make his go limp." But the humor can be limp too: "Where had Elvire read that pornographic films multiply by four hundred the number of asses you see in a lifetime? Yes, but, she thinks, 63% of statistics are false." As in life, in this unusual book, the problem is not the sex itself, but the commentary that follows. (July)