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James W. Fonseca
- Published on Amazon.com
This is a book of elaborate word play, translated from the French. It's about archaeology, reflected upon by a graduate student who is in charge of a gift shop and giving tours of cave paintings. But he's a lackadaisical dreamer, we surmise, by the number of time he incites fury in his supervising professor and by the fact that in the end he gets fired and barricades himself in the gift shop! Amid the convoluted writing style we learn a bit about geology, bone fossilization, Carbon 14 dating and methods of cave paintings used in prehistoric times. Our narrator also performs some amateur archaeology by going through the stuff in drawers accumulated by his predecessor. But the main fun is in the words: "...must certain men remain immobile, inert even, so as to serve as reference points for the active ones...and bad examples? "...digression really is the shortest distance between two points, the straight line being so very congested." "Whereas we are sure of absolutely nothing when it comes to prehistoric times, we know nothing, or almost nothing." "In truth, everything is very simple and somewhat disappointing." We can see from these quotes why our narrator got in trouble. It's an "interesting" book, but to be honest, I think you would have to be an archaeologist or, better, a graduate student in archaeology to really like it.
- Published on Amazon.com
Talk about going from the absurd to the ridiculous, I should have thought about my next reading journey a little deeper than just picking up Chevillard and saying “this will do”, from Krasznahorkai to Chevillard, now there’s a journey. Quarterly have described Chevillard as “France’s foremost absurdist”, even Wikipedia says “postmodernist literature”, yep I’m in for a surprise.
Our novel opens with our unnamed protagonist/narrator telling us that he is unfit for the job of guard/guide of the Pales caves as the uniform is too small, the cap is too large and the shoes too big. The caves contain Palaeolithic paintings, and our protagonist has been “demoted” to the role of guide/guard as he injured himself falling whilst on an archaeologist tour (he’s is an archaeologist without a kneecap).
This is where our novel takes a turn into the land of “strange”, our writer doesn’t want to actually start our protagonist’s story, our guide doesn’t want to go to work as a guide, procrastination and delay are the themes, our hero is potentially unevolving (?), disevolving(?), evolving backwards, is he slowly becoming prehistoric?
No two skulls are alike, as any peasant growing his turnips on the site of an ancient necropolis can tell you; no two turnips either, even if an exhumed skull is sometimes so similar to a turnip that you can mistake one for the other. When you think about it, it might even be that our particular casts of mind – each unique – depend solely on the shape of our skull, individual thought testing itself first against the bone of its brainpan, like music molding itself to the geometry of a dome without regard for the musician’s intentions. Just a hypotheses I’m throwing out here. Indeed, I’m going beyond the call of my duties. But since I haven’t yet taken them up…Let’s grant for a moment that this hypothesis is correct, in which case we can legitimately claim that one’s thoughts will develop more freely in a huge-domed skull – but with the risk of getting lost or confused – than in a narrow, pointy skull, unless, on the contrary, they become sharper and burst forth, which is not impossible. My starting hypothesis thus branches out into diverging subhypotheses: this is how webs are woven; truth cannot be caught by the hand.
For my full review go to http://messybooker.blogspot.com.au/