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Vain Art of the Fugue: A Novel [Paperback]

Dumitru Tsepeneag

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Book Description

April 1 2007 Romanian Literature Series

Clutching a bouquet of flowers, hurrying to catch his bus, and arguing with the driver once he's on, a man rushes to a train station platform to meet a woman. This sequence of events occurs and recurs in remarkably different variations in Vain Art of the Fugue.

In one version, the bus driver ignores the traffic signals and is killed in the ensuing crash. In another, the protagonist is thrown off the bus, and as he chases after it, a crowd of strangers joins him in the pursuit.

As the book unfolds, the protagonist, his lovers, and the people he meets become increasingly vivid and complex figures in the crowded Bucharest cityscape. Themes, conflicts, and characters interweave and overlap, creating a book that is at once chaotic and perfectly composed.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; Tra edition (April 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564784215
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564784216
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 0.1 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #262,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Noted Romanian writer Tsepeneag spins out a blizzard of variations on a simple anecdote, marvelously echoing the fugue's repeated statement of subtly differing themes. In Tsepeneag's simple tale, a man is sitting on a bus, flowers in hand, concerned that he will miss the train he is hoping to meet—or is he catching it? At the train station, he waits impatiently for Maria (or is it Magda?) while watching the strange parade of humanity: peasants cradling giant fish, train engineers telling long-winded anecdotes, an Italian tourist struggling to understand the conductor's rapid-fire Romanian. Sometimes the scene switches suddenly, and our protagonist is at the beach or in prison; other times, the action shifts from him to other, unnamed characters, who watch his furious and ultimately fruitless attempts to maintain order. A few of the 25 segments fall flat or fail to adequately distinguish themselves, and none resolves (in fact, most loop back). Yet there is a sublime lunacy to watching objects lose their meanings, people exchange roles and the protagonist suddenly surge ahead quixotically, as when he (repeatedly) runs alongside the bus wearing a T-shirt emblazoned, in gold letters, "LOVE." (May)
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"The reader discovers new satisfactions with such a book. Far from the insipid savors generated by a passive fascination, the text stirs up the joys of an endless activity." -- Le Monde

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Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is no Bach Feb. 11 2013
By chelsea girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Because the book is well written, the reader is initially engaged. However, after a while, when incidents keep repeating, replicating, with only the slightest of variations, it becomes tedious. It is impossible to relate to any characters or events. It's like a nightmare from which one cannot awake. It's not Kafka, it's not Pulp Fiction, it's not Bach. Guess I'm just not sophisticated enough for the book's Post-Modern nihilism.

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