Hotel Crystal Paperback – May 1 2008
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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)
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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.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.