cover image We Three

We Three

Jean Echenoz, trans. from the French by Jesse Anderson. Dalkey Archive, $15 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-62897-170-5

In this ingenious minimal novel, Louis Meyer, a divorced aerospace engineer, travels to southern France for a much-needed vacation. Meyer’s plans are upended when he assists a mysterious red-headed woman called Mercedes, who’s stranded beside a burning Mercedes on the road to Marseille. After a violent earthquake, the pair escape the chaos at the epicenter and journey back to Paris, stopping for an impromptu visit to the home of Meyer’s mother. These peculiar events lead to an unconventional romantic triangle when Meyer’s coworker Blondel invites Meyer to join a space mission helmed by an obsessive pilot named DeMilo. Anderson’s adroit translation preserves the celebrated idiosyncrasies of Echenoz’s (The Queen’s Caprice) prose. The writing is clear, precise, and playful, featuring dramatic tone and point-of-view shifts, imagined moments, and movie script–style scene descriptions. Echenoz constructs a tight narrative in a constant state of flux. This fluidity mirrors the uncertainty of the protagonists and narrator, who all demonstrate a sense of rootless yearning. This novel welcomes repeated readings and presents new aspects to admire each time. It’s a satisfying book from one of France’s preeminent contemporary authors. (Feb.)