Black Village

Lutz Bassman, trans. from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman. Open Letter, $14.95 trade paper (204p) ISBN 978-1-9488-3043-0
Bassman (We Monks & Soldiers) follows the wanderings of a trio of compatriots through a postapocalyptic world in his inventive latest. Myriam, Tassili, and Goodmann, once poets and theater directors in an unspecified post-Soviet country, live in a world of total darkness. Goodman, the designated fire starter, lines his pockets with tins of black powder and other combustible agents, and lights them periodically to provide brief illumination. Ever observant Myriam, the self-designated leader, encourages the others to concoct fragments of stories based on their hazy memories of the beforetime. Vivid tales of assassins in training and human-sized, talking cormorants, puffins, vultures, and other creatures ensue to a dizzying degree, and, as per Myriam’s prompt, are left incomplete. The structure, though reflective of Myriam’s abstract theorizing on the nature of storytelling, occasionally feels frustrating, but Bassman can surprise with strange and visceral descriptions (of the ground the characters walk on: “a muddle of dusty rags, scarves and tatters getting twisted around your ankles and dragging you down for hours or days”). Like the characters cast in utter darkness with only glimpses of their surroundings, the several dozen stories they tell one another provide scant insight into the previous world. This is as perplexing as it is engaging. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/24/2021
Release date: 12/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-948830-69-0
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