From Publishers Weekly
French playwright and novelist Reza (Desolation) wryly channels the thoughts of the titular depressed, unhappily married 47-year-old writer: he has just been diagnosed by his optometrist with partial thrombosis and probable glaucoma, while his wife, Irene, an engineer, seems to no longer love or care for him. With obsessions about his mortality, marriage, and failed book crashing about his head, Adam finds himself watching the ostriches in Paris's Jardin des Plantes, periodically cell-phoning his contentedly-coupled friend Albert. Recognizing Adam in the park, Marie-Thérèse Lyoc, with her bags full of the merchandise she sells to zoos and amusement parks, is energetic and talkative; in lycée, she was the invisible, faceless slave to another girl Adam loved. Out of grim resignation, Adam agrees to drive back with this open, talkative "nauseatingly robust ghost from the past" to her apartment in the suburbs while Marie-Thérèse cooks dinner for him, and eventually shares with him a letter that reveals how she once pined for him. This revelation, 30-years-ripe, paralyzes him. In her penetrating, repetitive monologue, Reza collapses Adam's entire sense of himself, and renders his ordinariness touching, even majestic.
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Reza's second novel is as taut and cutting as her first, Desolation
(2002), and even funnier in its disclosures of human foibles. The award-winning French playwright brings to fiction her gift for crafting a fuming inner monologue in counterpoint with spiky dialogue as a man faces a crisis primarily of his own construction. Adam, a 47-year-old writer, has eye trouble and consequently is full of fear of disability, age, and death. But he is also sulking on a rainy day in the Jardin des Plantes because his newest book and his marriage are utter disasters. Enter a doggedly upbeat former classmate, Marie-Therese. Adam agrees to dinner at her place, and as Marie-Therese summons up awkward memories and raves about electrical appliances, his mordant thoughts turn to vanity, mortality, and the shocking pleasure he experienced anonymously writing a work of pulp fiction. As Reza conducts this wry duet of delusion and compromise, she questions our belief in the transcendence of art, reminds us that we're our own worst enemies, and balances existential blues with compassion and humor. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved