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Hotel Crystal [Paperback]

Olivier Rolin

Price: CDN$ 12.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

May 1 2008 French Literature

At some Parisian lost-and-found, a mysterious manuscript scribbled onto stray bits of hotel stationary and postcards and stuffed into an abandoned briefcase comes into the hands of an "editor," who claims to faithfully transcribe and assemble the random texts. On the face of it, these consist of fastidious descriptions of a series of hotel rooms in cities around the globe, but their world-weary writer, a certain "Olivier Rolin," is also involved in a number of highly improbable international networks, populated by unsavory thugs and Mata Haris in distress.

Author Olivier Rolin has dipped into his extensive travel notebooks to create this highly inventive novel that spoofs, among others, the decaying international espionage scene, the literary author publicity tour, and official French culture, all against a backdrop of the queasy alienation secreted by standard-issue hotel rooms across the globe.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (May 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564784924
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564784926
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 15.4 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #336,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Using a Georges Perec line about memory as his point of departure, Rolin, a French journalist and accomplished novelist (Port-Soudan, Tigre en papier), has fashioned in forensic detail a travelogue of hotel rooms around the globe. From Room 308 in the Polar Hotel of Khatanga, Russia, to Room 8 in the Au Bon Accueil in Saint-Nazaire, France, another Olivier Rolin scribbled these brief, diarylike accounts on scraps of paper to be discovered before he supposedly disappeared for good. Along with the exact measurements of the room, descriptions of furnishings—especially the mirrors, in which he notes his reflection—the missing narrator offers clues about himself; he does some underhanded dealing with a smalltime Russian crook, Gricha; he drops literary allusions, from Homer to Malcolm Lowry; and he likes women, frequently using his rooms as trysting spots. It seems as though he could be embroiled in an international Machiavellian plot. In the end, he pines for one unattainable woman, Mélanie Melbourne, who scolds him because he can't remember the room that signifies their impossible life together, Room 211 of the Hotel Crystal, in Nancy, France. Rolin's arch antinovel works as a kind of jokester hall of mirrors or a playful, literary roman policier. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

In this witty puzzler of a novel by Olivier Rolin (translated by Jane Kuntz), a traveler with the same name as the author begins each chapter with a description of a different hotel room he's stayed in around the world. These, in turn, become occasions for Rolin (or 'Rolin'?) to tell us of his adventures as a globe-trotting amateur spy and dashing lover. Frenchman Rolin engages in literary game-playing in Hotel Crystal, crossing influences such as Vladimir Nabokov and Georges Perec.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading for the fun of it Nov. 14 2009
By Keith Nichols - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This French novel is a hoot, no doubt the author's accomplishment, but ably abetted by his translator. The result is a delightful read. There's no particular plot, as the protagonist moves about the world staying in hotel after hotel and for some reason constructing detailed descriptions of the rooms he occupies. And rather incidentally recounting the outlandish schemes and sexual encounters he involves himself in. The room descriptions are the most evocative parts of the narrative, at least for me, who has stayed in a fair number of hotels of various grades but has much less experience of sexual encounters and outlandish schemes to harken back to.
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read Jan. 16 2014
By Sheila Rao - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book of intrigue, beautifully written and translated. It has history, geography, politics, lust all woven together with keen humour in bits. The author is well known in France and is slowly have his works translated here. If you crave imaginative writing, this book is for you.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars connect the dots Sept. 14 2008
By J. Tank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
this is not your regular novel-- every chapter begins with an exquisitely detailed observation of the hotel room, down to every last detail, followed by musings, anecdote (usually involving a sexual conquest) in that particular room.

the strength of the novel rests on the outlandish conspiracies and plots he is supposedly taking part in, and how the disparate parts of his life (melanie, his true love, is a frequent topic -- of both immense longing and trenchant rebuke) are gradually revealed, sort of like looking at magic eye 3-d puzzle long enough.

i thoroughly enjoyed it, and decided to immediately re-read it after finishing it the first time to truly appreciate it. i recommend you give it a try.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tries too Hard to be Sophisticated and Modern Sept. 13 2008
By J. Avellanet - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had a hard time writing this review. The "story" (if it can be called that) edges close to being interesting, but ultimately fails. Part of its failure is the consistent framework of each "chapter" - 1-2 pages of excrutiatingly detailed descriptions of a hotel room, followed by 1-2 pages of a diary entry.

We are to believe the author is part spy, part lecturer, part international thief, and yet it all comes off as someone who took a video camera to thirty or so hotel rooms around the world, then went back home to painstakingly describe each panned video of the room, imagine what he would be doing staying in the room and then put in segments of a greater story we never really see.

Imagine, if you will, an avant-garde film that begins with a detailed filming of a hotel room, step by step, from the door, to the bathroom faucet, to the ceiling, to the first lamp by the bed, etc., etc. (really, like 5 full minutes). Then, you see a man standing in front of a mirror, smoking, looking out the window and down the street to where two men in t-shirts sit talking. The man turns. In his hand is a Glock pistol. And then the film jumps to another hotel room somewhere else in the world, painstakingly filmed (again, for another 5 minutes), and again we see the man, but this time, he holds a book in his hand instead of gun...ta da. Oh my gosh. What does it mean? What is the author saying? That the pen is not mightier than the bullet? and so on, and so on, ad nauseum.

If that's the kind of film that you can't wait to see - this is THE book for you.

If you rolled your eyes at the above and can think of a thousand other things you'd rather do than see that kind of film, don't waste your money or your time on this book.
ARRAY(0xb6af68b8)

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