cover image The Thursday Night Men

The Thursday Night Men

Tonino Benacquista, trans. from the French by Alison Anderson. Europa, $16 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-60945-079-3

Benacquista establishes the premise of his new novel with brisk economy. Sitting among the ever-changing crowd of regulars who meet Thursday evenings at different locations throughout Paris to eulogize their broken hearts are Yves, a glazier and, %E2%80%9Cfor five whole years,%E2%80%9D a happily married man; Denis, a charming head waiter who%E2%80%99s hit an inexplicable streak of romantic bad luck; and Philippe, an intellectual who was dumped by a beautiful woman, in every way his equal, when his ego got the better of him. Though Benacquista (Badfellas) keeps his stories moving briskly, he falls on his face with his female characters. The majority are prostitutes, working to help characters like Yves %E2%80%9Cheal%E2%80%9D while adding prurience to the prose. Mia is a narcissistic fashion model and Marie-Jeanne, a stranger who moves in with Denis, functions only to repair his damaged ego. Clich%C3%A9d and glib, Benacquista%E2%80%99s latest effort constitutes another male fantasy of moral relativism%E2%80%94and a betrayal of an intriguing premise. (Oct.)