We don't go as far as our fellow reviewer Benjamin who has stated his opinion as greatest novel of five years, but on the other hand for us, and the men of our generation, ANTHOLOGY OF APPARITIONS is a kind of bible on how to behave when caught up in the meaningless revolving door we call existence in our forties.
Claude is just like us in so many ways! We've been there, in the great nighclubs of postwar Paris, New York, Berlin, London and Tokyo. We too had a little sister, Marina, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances linked to the Heidu Fleiss scandal of some years ago. Simon Liberati, you are our hero for daring to speak through the murky truths of a forgotten echo, like the plink, plink, plink sound made by throwing three francs into the bottom of s deep well somewhere on the estate of the Marquis, in France. As an American boy growing up in France I knew many boys and girls like Claude and Marina, resourceful and gaminlike waifs who sullenly sold their bodies for a rind of cheese and a Gauloise, and who played aimlessly with needles--the hypodermic kind--the kind used at the millinery ateliers on the rue St. Anne near the Palais Royal--or the needle on the phonograph machine that, when applied to any of Francoise Hardy's or the Rolling Stones' numerous LPs, provided the ye-ye soundtrack to our lives.
Not since BONJOUR TRISTESSE has a book come along that we could adopt with our hearts like Angelina Jolie adopting the needy of the world. Wherever I go now, whatever corridor of life I flaneur through, I seem to see the fleeting figure of young, 16 year old debauchee Marina disappearing with a fleeting glance into the netherworld into which she vanished from Claude--not that he, or we, cared at the time.
We think we were all too busy with our own cares, our ceaseless need for cool, a need provoked by the extreme trauma brought on by French boyhood. For us, it was an existential thing; for the young readers of Liberati. for example Donal and Mike, who made us a present of this beautifully translated (by Paul Buck and Catherine Petit) book by London's noted Pushkin Press (and adorned with a remarkable, decadent photo by Thomas Nutzl), yea, for all of these, it is in the nature of a life-changing event for them. As Liberati so proudly states, it is the "humanist reader" who needs Marina to be alive, even if being dead is, in general, better, a happier state. Which camp are we in?