Saturday, May 23, 2009

Weekly Acquisitions

Last week was a very good book week (though not so good for personal finances). I scraped enough for Celine Curiol's Voice Over and Greene's End of the Affair from work, and then last Wednesday en route to Discovery Park with friends popped into the U Book Store and found used copies of the Fagles translation of the Aeneid (beautiful Penguin Deluxe Edition with the flaps) and a Persephone copy of Dorothy Whipple's Someone At a Distance. Am presently embarked on reading the Aeniad, and though it was a little work getting into, am now wholly enjoying it (and seriously contemplating starting or joining a Classics Club).

I read Voice Over in March and loved it. A debut novel translated from the French by Sam Richard about a lonely, nameless woman who is an announcer for the metro at the Gare du Nord in Paris, hopelessly in love with a man in love with another woman, and drifting through the city. She allows herself to be buffeted by the choices of others, and deceived and shamed by her own hopes and desires. She acts as an example of what critic James Wood calls Flaubert's "flaneur," a human camera that "walks the streets with no great urgencies, seeing, looking, reflecting." It is a sad, lyrical novel; a portrait of present day Paris: a city of lonely, ordinary people, doomed relationships, and still, infinite possibility. At the conclusion of the novel, one wonders if the woman walks the path to madness, or to liberation?

Voice Over was nominated for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (though, to my chagrin, not winning) - I hope the nomination pushes it into a place of greater visibility.

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