It is the fall of 1939, and Lieutenant Grange and his men are living in a chalet above a concrete bunker deep in the Ardennes forest, charged with defending the French-Belgian border against the Germans in a war that seems unreal, distant, and unlikely. Far more immediate is the earthy life of the forest itself and the deep sensations of childhood it recalls from Grange's memory. Ostensibly readying for war, Grange instead spends his time observing the change in seasons, falling in love with a young free-spirited widow, and contemplating the absurd stasis of his present condition. This novel of long takes, dream states, and little dramatic action culminates abruptly in battle, an event that is as much the real incursion of the German army into France as it is the sudden intrusion of death into the suspended disbelief of life. Richard Howard's skilled translation captures the fairy-tale otherworldliness and existential dread of this unusual, elusive novel (first published in 1958) by the supreme prose stylist Julien Gracq.
Camille Verhoeven, whose diminutive stature belies his fierce intensity, has reached an unusually content (for him) place in life. he is respected by his colleagues and he and his lovely wife, Irene, are expecting their first child.
But when a new murder case hits his desk--a double torture-homicide that's so extreme that even the most seasoned officers are horrified-Verhoeven is overcome with a sense of foreboding.
As links emerge between the bloody set-piece and at least one past unsolved murder, it becomes clear that a calculating serial killer is at work. The press has a field day, taking particular pleasure in putting Verhoeven under the media spotlight (and revealing uncomfortable details of his personal life).
Then Verhoeven makes a breakthrough discovery: the murders are modeled after the exploits of serial killers from classic works of crime fiction. The double murder was an exquisitely detailed replication of a scene from Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho, and one of the linked cold cases was a faithful homage to James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia.
The media circus reaches a fever pitch when the modus operandi of the killer, dubbed "The Novelist," is revealed. Worse, the Novelist has taken to writing taunting letters to the police, emphasizing that he will stop leaving any clues behind unless Verhoeven remains on the case.
For reasons known only to the killer, the case has become personal. With more literature--inspired murders surfacing, Verhoeven enlists the help of an eccentric bookseller and a professor specializing in crime fiction to try to anticipate his adversary's next move. Then Irene is kidnapped.
With time running out, Verhoeven realizes that all along he's been the unwitting dupe in The Novelist's plans to create an original work of his own. Now, the only person in the world the commandant truly cares for is in danger, and a happy ending seems less and less likely as it becomes clear that the winner of this deadly game may be the man with the least to lose.
At once truly appalling and appallingly funny, Blaise Cendrars's Moravagine bears comparison with Naked Lunch--except that it's a lot more entertaining to read. Heir to an immense aristocratic fortune, mental and physical mutant Moravagine is a monster, a man in pursuit of a theorem that will justify his every desire. Released from a hospital for the criminally insane by his starstruck psychiatrist (the narrator of the book), who foresees a companionship in crime that will also be an unprecedented scientific collaboration, Moravagine travels from Moscow to San Antonio to deepest Amazonia, engaged in schemes and scams as, among other things, terrorist, speculator, gold prospector, and pilot. He also enjoys a busy sideline in rape and murder. At last, the two friends return to Europe--just in time for World War I, when "the whole world was doing a Moravagine."This new edition of Cendrars's underground classic is the first in English to include the author's afterword, "How I Wrote Moravagine."
For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for -offenses against morality and religion.- What shocks us today about Flaubert's devastatingly realized tale of a young woman destroyed by the reckless pursuit of her romantic dreams is its pure artistry: the poise of its narrative structure, the opulence of its prose (marvelously captured in the English translation of Francis Steegmuller), and its creation of a world whose minor figures are as vital as its doomed heroine. In reading Madame Bovary, one experiences a work that remains genuinely revolutionary almost a century and a half after its creation.
As he bore a vague resemblance to the Emperor, the sailors on board the Hermann-Augustus Stoeffer had nicknamed him Napoleon. And so, for convenience, that is what we shall call him.
Besides, he was Napoleon. . . .
In his acclaimed, award-winning novels Alex and Ir ne, Pierre Lemaitre created an unforgettable character in Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven. Now, in Camille, the final volume in Lemaitre's internationally bestselling trilogy of "meta-meta detective" novels (The New York Times), Verhoeven faces his most harrowing case yet, and the ultimate reckoning for the diminutive yet tenacious protagonist.
Anne Forestier finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time when she is trapped in the middle of a bank robbery. Shot three times, she is lucky to survive-and morbidly unlucky to remember the face of her assailant.
Followed home from her hospital bed, Anne is in grave danger. But one thing stands in her favor-a dangerously vengeful partner, carrying the scars of devastating loss, who will break all the rules to protect the woman he loves: Commandant Camille Verhoeven.
Following the horror of Ir ne and the thrills of Alex, Camille is the heart-stopping final chapter. Drawn once again into a labyrinthine web with answers ever out of reach, Camille must draw on all his talent to face an enemy who threatens everything he holds dear.
An NYRB Classics OriginalEmmanuel Bove was one of the most original writers to come out of twentieth-century France and a popular success in his day. Discovered by Colette, who arranged for the publication of his first novel, My Friends, Bove enjoyed a busy literary career, until the German occupation silenced him. During his lifetime, his novels and stories were admired by Rilke, the surrealists, Camus, and Beckett, who said of him that "more than anyone else he has an instinct for the essential detail." Henry Duchemin and His Shadows is the ideal introduction to Bove's world, with its cast of stubborn isolatoes who call to mind Melville's Bartleby, Walser's "little men," and Rhys's lost women. Henri Duchemin, the protagonist of the collection's first story, "Night Crime," is ambivalent, afraid of appearing ridiculous, desperate for money: in other words, the perfect prey. Criminals, beautiful women, and profiteers threaten the sad young men of Bove's stories, but worse yet are the interior voices and paranoia that propel them to their fates. The poet of the flophouse and the dive, the park bench and the pigeon's crumb, Bove is also a deeply empathetic writer for whom no defeat is so great as to silence desire.
A New York Review Books OriginalOne of Honor de Balzac's most celebrated tales, "The Unknown Masterpiece" is the story of a painter who, depending on one's perspective, is either an abject failure or a transcendental genius--or both. The story, which has served as an inspiration to artists as various as C zanne, Henry James, Picasso, and New Wave director Jacques Rivette, is, in critic Dore Ashton's words, a "fable of modern art." Published here in a new translation by poet Richard Howard, "The Unknown Masterpiece" appears, as Balzac intended, with "Gambara," a grotesque and tragic novella about a musician undone by his dreams.