Saturday, March 5, 2016

"Sphinx" by Anne Garréta (Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan & Introduction by Daniel Levin Becker)

ISBN: 978-1-941920-09-1 Deep Vellum

"Sphinx" by Anne Garréta (Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan; Introduction by Daniel Levin Becker)   Deep Vellum

A really nice mood piece of writing here.  Anne Garréta gives the nighttime life of Paris and Manhattan a nice smokey touch, as this is a tale of lovers, one is a combination of professor and DJ, and the other lover is an American dancer in Paris.  What we don't know is the gender of either of the two.   Which must have been hell for the translator Emma Ramadan to do, since the French language has very strong genderistic touches to their language.   In all honesty, as I was reading, I was imagining that the lovers were women, and I'm not sure if it was just a stupid knowledge of knowing the author is female, or somehow the nature of the two main characters.   Garréta wrote this novel when she was 25, and she became a member of Oulipo five years after she wrote "Sphinx."   One can sense the playfulness of the language as well as the no gender specific of the two characters, but it's not as experimental as Georges Perec for instance.  The story reads as a doomed love story, a very smart and textured text, but one that conveys the loss of a presence.  

- Tosh Berman

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