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The Fountains of Neptune
     

The Fountains of Neptune

by Rikki Ducornet
 

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"My sleep began in the spring of 1914. I slept through both World Wars and the tainted calm between. It was as if I had been cursed by an evil fairy, pricked by an enchanted spinning wheel; an impenetrable briar had gripped my mind."

Thus begins Rikki Ducornet's brilliant lyric novel about Nicolas who, as a result of witnessing his mother's murder, falls into a

Overview

"My sleep began in the spring of 1914. I slept through both World Wars and the tainted calm between. It was as if I had been cursed by an evil fairy, pricked by an enchanted spinning wheel; an impenetrable briar had gripped my mind."

Thus begins Rikki Ducornet's brilliant lyric novel about Nicolas who, as a result of witnessing his mother's murder, falls into a decades-long coma. Awakened in a seaport town in France, he reconstructs his past through storytelling and myth, resulting in an astonishing exploration of memory and imagination.

Editorial Reviews

Oliver Sacks

I think the novel extraordinary.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this allegorical novel--part absurdist fairy tale, part Mad Hatter's tea party--poet and novelist ( Entering Fire ) Ducornet renders a vexatiously baffling account of a mentally troubled childhood. Confined to an exotic spa, middle-aged Nicholas recreates for psychoanalyst/water therapist Venus Kaiserstiege his fantasies and obsessions, dreams that have occupied his subconscious during the several decades he has spent in the coma that mysteriously began when he was nine years old. In a flashback to early childhood, Nicholas recalls a hodgepodge of adventures in a French seaside cottage, pre-WW I, where noisy nursery-tale personages (Other Mother, Toujours-La, Totor) cook him delicious dishes and tell stories. A prevailing metaphor is the sea with its marine denizens, e.g., the old sailor, Shark and Cod's wife. Nicholas's analyst calls him Froschlein (tadpole), though he is also known as the Sandman in a case study devoted to his life. Eventually the reason for Nicholas's madness emerges: when he was two, his adulterous mother Odile was murdered with her lover. Both had drowned. In the novel's mythology the sea suggests the amniotic waters of the maternal womb. Ducornet, whose poetic imagination has vividness and charm, acknowledges a debt to the work of clinician Oliver Sacks, but her writing lacks his clarity. Ultimately her novel capsizes under the weight of its own playfulness. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Nicholas spends 50 years in a coma, cared for by the brilliant Dr. Venus Kaiserstiege, and awakens to a completely new world. As a child in a French seaport, he was taken in--in more ways than one--by aging stepparents and surrounded by colorful salts with names like Aristide Marquis and Toujours-La. Who were his parents, and what happened to them? The answers lie deep in his own mind. As in Ducornet's previous novel, The Stain ( LJ 9/15/84), the world portrayed here seems to belong to a much earlier time than the beginning of the 20th century, perhaps because the author wishes to evoke the ancient roots of the unconscious. First published in Canada in 1989, this fine novel might give the American-born Ducornet the big break she richly deserves in the United States. Highly recommended.-- Jim Dwyer, California State Univ. at Chico

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781564781550
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
03/28/2015
Series:
American Literature (Dalkey Archive) Series
Edition description:
2nd ed.
Pages:
220
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Robert Coover
Rikki Ducornet's The Fountains of Neptune is an extraordinary work of the imagination: an old man's poignant memory—all he has left after a lifelong coma—of the seaside village of his boyhood before the Great War. The wonderful adventures and fabulous seafaring tales of Totor, Toujours—Là, Rose and the Cod's Wife, Aristide Marquis, Charlie Dee the chimp, and all the rest, might aptly have been titled by the name of their favorite inn in a nearby riverside village: A La Recherche Du Paradis Terrestre. This third book of the projected Ducornet "tetrology of elements," following upon The Stain and Entering Fire, both remarkable achievements, is her best so far.

Meet the Author

Rikki Ducornet was born in New York and has lived in North Africa, South America, Canada and France. Her work as an illustrator first came to the attention of the Canadian book trade in 1974 with the publication of Susan Musgrave's "Gullband". In 1983, the Porcupine's Quill commissioned Rikki to illustrate an edition of Jorge Luis Borges' "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius".

Rikki is the author of three short-story collections, seven books of poetry, and seven novels, including "The Fan-Maker's Inquisition" and "The Jade Cabinet". She is also a painter whose work has been exhibited widely. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

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