cover image L'Amour


Marguerite Duras, trans. from the French by Kazim Ali and Libby Murphy. Open Letter (Long Leaf, dist.), $12.95 trade paper (109p) ISBN 978-1-934824-79-5

Duras's ethereal 1971 novella, finally translated into English, exerts itself through the continual wash of waves. The work is a sequel of sorts to Duras's The Ravishing of Lol Stein, taking the premise of that earlier novel and twisting it into a strange fever dream. A man, a woman, and a second man spend their days on a beach. The first man is our narrator. He has returned to the village of S. Thala after a long absence during which the woman seemingly has gone mad. S. Thala is a town, a memory, and an asylum. Drawn in cinematic fragments, the book only scratches the surface of who these characters are. They walk the beach, explore abandoned ballrooms, and forget and then remember each other in the same instant. The woman is perpetually pregnant; a dead dog shows up, vanishes; the characters drifting in and out of sleep as a fire rages in the town. We are left with light playing on ocean currents, with closed eyes and dreams. Duras brings to mind the best of modernist fiction%E2%80%94Woolf's The Waves, Sartre's No Exit%E2%80%94and is concerned with relationships, their fraying and the inescapable past. (July)