Electrico W

Electrico W

3.0 1
by Herve Le Tellier, Adriana Hunter
     
 

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By the celebrated Oulipo writer, this brilliant and witty novel set in Lisbon explores love, relationships, and the strange balance between literature and life.
 
Journalist, writer, and translator Vincent Balmer moves to Lisbon to escape from a failing affair. During his first assignment there, he teams up with Antonio—a photographer who has just

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Overview

By the celebrated Oulipo writer, this brilliant and witty novel set in Lisbon explores love, relationships, and the strange balance between literature and life.
 
Journalist, writer, and translator Vincent Balmer moves to Lisbon to escape from a failing affair. During his first assignment there, he teams up with Antonio—a photographer who has just returned to the city after a ten-year absence—to report for a French newspaper on an infamous serial killer’s trial.
 
While walking around the city together to take notes and photos for the article, they visit the places of Antonio’s childhood, swap stories from their pasts, and confide in each other. But the more they learn about each other, the more their lives become inextricably intertwined.
 
With a structure that parallels Homer’s Odyssey, Eléctrico W recounts their nine days together and the adventures that proliferate to form a constellation of successive ephemeral connections and relationships.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Romantic and atmospheric, this novel also benefits from a particularly fine sense of place and time. It is 1985 in Lisbon. The narrator, Vincent Balmer, is a French journalist. He is trying to finish a novel when Antonio Flores, a photographer, asks him to help cover the trial of Pinheiro, a serial killer. The two men share a suite in a hotel and interact with a complex group of characters, such as “Duck,” an important woman from Antonio’s past; Irene, a woman known to both men, who once told Vincent that he had “a young man’s body that hadn’t aged well”; Aurora, a young woman who gives what is quite possibly the funniest violin recital ever rendered in literature; and Vincent’s father, among others. Dealing with so many characters sometimes gives the book a cobbled-together feel, but also makes it lively and fleet. An epilogue describes the characters’ futures so neatly and completely that the reader may want to skip it. But skipping anything else in this witty, sad, and interesting novel would be a shame. Agent: Isabelle Laffont, Editions JC Lattès (France). (June)
From the Publisher
"Romantic and atmospheric, this novel also benefits from a particularly fine sense of place and time...Dealing with so many characters...makes it lively and fleet. An epilogue describes the characters’ futures so neatly and completely that the reader may want to skip it. But skipping anything else in this witty, sad, and interesting novel would be a shame." —Publisher's Weekly

"...an engaging spapshot of these [characters'] briefly intersecting lives." —New York Times Book Review

"Delicate handling of deep themes—loss, missed connections, meaninglessness—gives the novel an emotional charge greater than its low-key particulars and pacing." —Kirkus

"...it is humorous and reads effortlessly." —Booklist

"...told with an earnestness that we see less and less of in novels in America. Le Tellier might remind readers of Robert Bolaño; both feature a poetic melancholy and characters that understand the world through the prism of literature." —The Daily Beast

"Both in its clever meditation on love and even the act of writing about love, Electrico W is a knotty wonder, both intricate in its form and serious in its emotional heft...a wonderful journey" —Coal Hill Review

"...enjoyable and even affecting..."—The Complete Review

"Clever and original, Electrico W examines the themes of love and death with a good deal of honest emotion..." —Seeing the World Through Books

"Eléctrico W is a playfully profound narrative about his undying obsession with obsession, told with a charming, thwarted desire for love and self-understanding. Le Tellier’s shrewd and wandering intelligence animates Balmer’s psyche – making Eléctrico W a strangely affecting story that toys with conventionality and compels the reader’s attention at all times while eluding its grasp with a comic flair." —On The Seawall

"Le Tellier is a master storyteller that is able to intermix the present with flashbacks, making the reader question whether the truth is being presented to them." —City Book Review

"The prose is crisp, clever and efficient. Le Tellier does a masterful job of doling out information at just the right time and increasing the stakes as the novel progresses to give a sense of forward motion. With a smart structure, a charming and distrustful narrator and a relatable plot, Electrico W is the type of novel that bounces around the brain for several days." —20 Something Reads

"A compelling, unconventional, and ultimately unrequited love story." —Reading in Translation

Kirkus Reviews
A French journalist and a Portuguese photographer find they have some uncomfortable things in common in this latest from Le Tellier (Enough About Love, 2011, etc.). Narrator Vincent Balmer has relocated to Lisbon to escape from his fruitless love for flirtatious, withholding Irene. When he agrees to cover the trial of serial killer Ricardo Pinheiro with photographer Antonio Flores, he doesn't know that Antonio is having an affair with Irene. When he finds out, he determines to get his revenge by tracking down Duck, the childhood sweetheart Antonio still pines for; then Irene will know what it feels like to be rejected. This mildly distasteful premise is mostly an excuse for Le Tellier's atmospheric, leisurely narrative of nine days in 1985, which mingles Vincent's search for Duck, the first day of the trial and his wanderings through Lisbon with Antonio and Irene--who arrives from Paris and is not pleased to find Vincent supposedly involved with someone else. He's faking this romance, aided by a woman he meets at a cafe. Another very young woman met by chance gives Antonio a taste of the hopeless love Irene and Vincent have both experienced, providing more satisfactory payback than Vincent's eventual discovery of Duck. Unfolding memories give readers a better understanding of and sympathy for Vincent, who has endured a difficult childhood, his mother's death and a fraught relationship with his father, who recently committed suicide. Intermittent excerpts from Portuguese writer Jaime Montestrela's Contos acquosas, which Vincent is translating, amplify the novel's tone of existential unease, which is also buttressed by glancing references to the Salazar dictatorship and Vincent's memories of a journey to the Okavango Delta in Africa, "a metaphor for unfinished business, for adversity, for an unreachable goal." It makes an allusive kind of sense that he names his novel after a Lisbon tramline that no longer exists. Delicate handling of deep themes--loss, missed connections, meaninglessness--gives the novel an emotional charge greater than its low-key particulars and pacing.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590515334
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
06/18/2013
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.84(d)

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