Small Lives by Pierre Michon, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Small Lives

Small Lives

by Pierre Michon
     
 

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Small Lives (Vies minuscules), Pierre Michon’s first novel, won the Prix France Culture. Michon explains that he wrote it "to save my own skin. I felt in my body that my life was turning around. This book born in an aura of inexpressible joy and catharsis rescued me more effectively than my aborted analysis." Le Monde calls it "his chef d’oeuvre. A bolt of

Overview

Small Lives (Vies minuscules), Pierre Michon’s first novel, won the Prix France Culture. Michon explains that he wrote it "to save my own skin. I felt in my body that my life was turning around. This book born in an aura of inexpressible joy and catharsis rescued me more effectively than my aborted analysis." Le Monde calls it "his chef d’oeuvre. A bolt of lightening." In Small Lives, Michon paints portraits of eight individuals, whose stories span two centuries in his native region of La Creuse. In the process of exploring their lives, he explores the act of writing and his emotional connection to both. The quest to trace and recall these interconnected lives seared into his memory ultimately becomes a quest to grasp his own humanity and discover his own voice.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Already in this first book Mr. Michon's style is full-grown, a lush mix of realism and impressionism. He favors long, complex sentences ("Proustian" wouldn't be unfair) that push forward even while constantly stepping sideways, a slow-paced prose that attempts to contain life's larger gestures and its minute sensations at once. — Martin Riker, The Wall Street Journal

Michon’s prose tends to slow down in order to oblige you to hear its rhythms and also to see and touch and smell what is happening beneath it . . . His supple prose, dappled with chiaroscuro effects, is used in straightforward chronicles. But his writing can at any time lift or lower into semi-hallucinatory effects that recall Arthur Rimbaud’s assaults on conventional perception. —Roger Shattuck

In the flow of Michon’s meditations and narratives, the visionary becomes the actual, and the actual becomes the visionary. —Leonard Michaels

One of the best-kept secrets of modern French prose. —Publishers Weekly

An astonishingly rich, mythic new direction in modern French narrative. —Guy Davenport

Rarely have I encountered a writer whose work felt so rewarding upon a first reading. . . . Reading Small Lives, I felt profoundly that Michon was carrying on the mark of a true writer: one who speaks in his own voice while conveying with all its immediacy and flesh-and-blood possiblity of what it means to be human. —Richard Kalich, The Review of Contemporary Fiction

In Small Lives by French author Pierre Michon, not only are we aware that we are reading great literature, but we have the privilege to accompany him on this journey in which he discovers the voice and style that make this an outstanding work of depth, substance and originality. —Monica Carter, Three Percent

The emotion, the forceful claims of the imagery, the painting of the starry night: Mr. Michon achieves what other writers wouldn't try, licensed as he is by keen regret and transfigured loss. More than other writers, Mr. Michon misses the poetry of the past, and in missing it he possesses it. —Benjamin Lytal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780972869218
Publisher:
Steerforth Press
Publication date:
06/16/2008
Edition description:
Translatio
Pages:
215
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Let us explore a genesis for my pretensions. Was one of my ancestors a fine captain, a young, insolent ensign, or fiercely taciturn slave trader? East of the Suez, some uncle gone back to Barbary in a cork helmet, wearing jodhpur boots and a bitter smile, a stereotype warmly endorsed by younger branches of the family, by renegade poets, all those dishonored ones full of honor, shadow, and memory, the black pearls of the family trees? Did I have some colonial or seafaring antecedent? The province I am speaking of has no coasts, beaches, or reefs; no exalted...

Meet the Author

Pierre Michon, born in Cards, France, in 1945, is one of France’s foremost contemporary writers. He was awarded the French Academy's Grand Prix du Roman for The Eleven (2009), the Prix Décembre for his short novels Abbés and Corps du roi, the Prix Louis Guilloux for La grande beaune (The Origin of the World), and the Prix de la Ville de Paris in 1996 for his body of work.

Jody Gladding is a poet and translator. Her most recent collection of poetry is Rooms and Their Airs. She has translated over twenty books from French, including The Serpent of Stars by Jean Giono. She teaches in the MFA program at Vermont Collegeof fine Arts, and lives in Vermont.

After devoting a part of her life to specialized horticulture, Elizabeth Deshays, now works as a teacher and translator. She is the author of a study on bilingual education, L’Enfant Bilingue. In addition to Michon's novels, she translated Julien Gracq's La Presqu'ile (The Peninsula). She lives in Provence.

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