Max Delmarc, age fifty, is a famous concert pianist with two problems: the first is a paralyzing stage fright for which the second, alcohol, is the only treatment. In this unparalleled comedy from the Prix Goncourt–winning French novelist Jean Echenoz, we journey with Max, from the trials of his everyday life, through his untimely death, and on into the afterlife.
After a brief stay in purgatory—part luxury hotel, part minimum security prison, under the supervision of deceased celebrities—Max is cast into an alarmingly familiar partition of hell, “the urban zone,” a dark and cloudy city much like his native Paris on an eternally bad day. Unable to play his beloved piano or stomach his needed drink, Max engages in a hapless struggle to piece his former life back together while searching in vain for the woman he once loved.
An acclaimed bestseller with 50,000 copies sold in France, Piano is a sly, sardonic evocation of Dante and Sartre for the present day, the playful, daring masterpiece of a novelist at the top of his form.
|Publisher:||New Press, The|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 7.70(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Jean Echenoz won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt for I’m Gone (The New Press). He is the author of nine other novels in English translation—including 1914, Big Blondes, Lightning, Piano, Ravel, and Running, all published by The New Press—and the winner of numerous literary prizes, among them the Prix Médicis and the European Literature Jeopardy Prize. He lives in Paris.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Oh god! His hundreds of uses of the "former and latter"... I got so sick of it! "Bernie and Max walked along, the former happy, the latter sad", or some such rot. Over and over. "Former and latter"! Ugh!And his tiresome DETAILS of EVERYTHING! His detailed lists of objects! He had to display his intimate knowledge of rickshaws (show-off!). Here is a perfect example of TOO MANY details: He is describing waiters. "The service was supervised by a headwaiter wearing a black tuxedo, starched shirt with wing collar, black bow tie and white waistcoat, black socks, and matte black shoes with rubber heels. He was assisted by front waiters in black evening coats, waistcoats, and trousers, starched shirts with wing collars, black bow ties, black socks, and matte black shoes with rubber heels. These latter oversaw a brigade of second waiters in white checkered spencer jackets, buttoned-up black vests, black trousers, starched white shirts with wing collars, white bow ties, black socks, and matte black shoes with rubber heels. As for the sommeliers who constantly verified the levels in each glass, they wore black tailcoats, vests, and trousers, starched white shirts with wing collars, black bow ties, and aprons of heavy black cloth with patch pockets and leather strings; an insignia depicting a gilded bunch of grapes was pinned to the left lapel of the tailcoat." ..."the restaurant manager was wearing a jacket and vest of gray fabric with black flecks, a starched white shirt and collar, a gray tie, striped trousers, black socks, black shoes, and impeccably silver hair."Arrrrggghhh!There is a point when one is creatively describing a scene and one is boringly showing off, and Echenov is most decidedly doing THE LATTER!
Piano is a quirky but humorous short novel about a renowned concert pianist, beset by alcoholism and stage fright, who dies suddenly at the height of his career. He finds himself in a purgatory that resembles a luxury hotel that is staffed by celebrities. He soon learns his fate, and he is sent to the "urban zone", a Sartrean representation of his former Parisian arrondissement, where he is forbidden to resume his former life or contact anyone he previously knew. The action in Piano drags in a couple of spots, but otherwise it was an entertaining and interesting read.
one of the best books I've read in 2004.Smart,funny,sad, all around a great book