cover image Someone Else

Someone Else

Tonino Benacquista. Bitter Lemon Press, $14.95 (307pp) ISBN 978-1-904738-12-1

Two strangers meet at a tennis club in Paris, launching this exploration into the nature of personal identity on its pleasantly erratic course. After a match, Thierry Blin, a picture framer, and Nicolas Gredzinski, a middle manager at a large corporation, hit the bar for a night of drinking, and make a bet that in three years' time they will have changed their unsatisfactory lives. That evening marks Gredzinski's first drinking binge ever and the start of his giddy spiral into alcoholism as he tries to quell the ""monster of his ... anxiety"" with booze. Blin switches careers-and identies-to live out his youthful fantasy, ""hiding behind two words which had a magical and yet very real ring to them in his mind: private detective."" With a surgically reconstructed face, Blin becomes P.I. Paul Vermeiren, and is hired to track down his now missing former self. More akin to Paul Auster's New York Trilogy than a standard crime novel, Benacquista's latest U.S. release (after Holy Smoke) offers a clever conceit.