cover image Works


Edouard Leve, trans. from the French by Jan Steyn. Dalkey Archive, $13.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1564789037

Part experiment, part prank, the late artist Leve's mildly amusing novel is a list of 533 unrealized art projects. A visual artist and photographer up until his controversial suicide just days after completing his final book (titled Suicide), Leve draws on his expertise to balance more thought-provoking visions with less compelling ones, presumably in order to critique the vapidity that drives much of contemporary art culture. Viable ideas include the imaginary board game called "Artopoly," while one less thrilling concept suggests "a sleep deprived man paints someone asleep." Occasionally, the author delves into the vulgar, such as in work number 206, in which he posits, "Human cheese is made from mothers' milk," and, in work number 209, a list of "imaginary diseases" is given. The flatness of the prose serves its purpose in delivering to the reader clear directions for imagining the works, but it is frequently dull and in effect a slog to read through: several sections, for instance, offer blocks of text, while some concepts repeat themselves in slightly altered forms. At its most interesting, the book offers insight into creativity by exploring the interaction between verbal description and visual interpretation. This novelty object will find a comfortable spot on coffee tables, but the reader can only hope to flip to the right page. (Aug.)