cover image Suicide


Edouard Levé, trans. from the French by Jan Steyn, Dalkey Archive, $12.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-56478-628-9

The suicide of a childhood friend—addressed here as "you"—elicits a reflective and dignified expression of wondering and grief in this last work by artist and writer Levé (1965–2007), who finished this novel 10 days before killing himself. The narrator describes his friend as a solitary, taciturn character who smoked American cigarettes, studied economics, played the drums in rock bands, and kept largely to himself. Subtle, troubling details begin to emerge: feeling increasingly "ill adapted to the world," the friend stops traveling and obsesses over his own death, designing his own tomb and growing despondent, seized by a kind of resignation. In the end, having left the house with his wife to attend a tennis date, he returns by himself, heads to the basement, and blows his head off. Why did he do it? the author wonders. Leve's slender narrative possesses a near-clinical precision of detail, which functions as both a funeral oration and the chilling foretelling of his own death. (Apr.)