From the Publisher
“A beautifully musical little novel.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Echenoz’s prose is stylish and delightfully soft-pedaled
leaving the sensation of a life lived exclusively for the creation of art.”
“Every word is perfectly placed; the writing is fluid
like a garment that fits beautifully even inside-out.”
Ravel was a private man, his life never bared before all, and rather than add gratuitous spice, Echenoz puts his enchanting imagination to work exploring the mundane, the curmudgeonly, the quirky…This beautifully musical little novel, translated by Linda Coverdale, ends in 1937 at Ravel's deathbed, where "he leaves no will, no image on film, not a single recording of his voice."
The New York Times
Prix Goncourt-winner Echenoz's fifth novel to be translated into English covers the last 10 years in the life of French composer Maurice Ravel, who in 1927 was 52 years old and at the height of his fame when he toured America. Echenoz is most keen on recording the human detail: Ravel's impeccable ablutions and wardrobe, his dainty size, his reading of Joseph Conrad's The Arrow of Goldand his triumphant tour across the United States. Upon his return and at the request of a friend, Ravel offhandedly composed his masterpiece, Boléro. However, lapses begin to intrude in his memory and eventually debilitate him. After harrowing brain surgery, Ravel died in 1937. Like his well-mannered subject, Echenoz's prose is stylish and delightfully soft-pedaled, expertly conveyed by Coverdaleleaving the sensation of a life lived exclusively for the creation of art. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Echenoz, winner of France's prestigious Prix Goncourt (for I'm Gone), recounts here the later years in the life of the great French composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). Told as simply as a fairy tale and beautifully translated by Coverdale, the story opens with Ravel struggling to get out of his bathtub without "bumping [his] crotch or risking a nasty fall." The accumulation of ordinary details like this emerges into a lifelike depiction of the composer as he makes his first journey to the New World and tours the United States by train. Along the way, we learn his habits, get to know his friends, and come to appreciate the author's insights into this almost inscrutable man who produced music of ravishing beauty without seeming to have any significant human connections. So what's fiction here? The choice and arrangement of facts that produce a stunning psychological portrait that is vastly larger than the sum of its many little parts. To be enjoyed by all literate readers.