Translated by Jane Kuntz
At some Parisian lost-and-found, a mysterious manuscript scribbled onto stray bits of hotel stationary and postcards and stuffed into an abandoned briefcase comes into the hands of an "editor," who claims to faithfully transcribe and assemble the random texts. On the face of it, these consist of fastidious descriptions of a series of hotel rooms in cities around the globe, but their world-weary writer, a certain "Olivier Rolin," is also involved in a number of highly improbable international networks, populated by unsavory thugs and Mata Haris in distress.
Author Olivier Rolin has dipped into his extensive travel notebooks to create this highly inventive novel that spoofs, among others, the decaying international espionage scene, the literary author publicity tour, and official French culture, all against a backdrop of the queasy alienation secreted by standard-issue hotel rooms across the globe.
Nb of pages 190 p.
Publication Date 27 May 2008
Nb of pages 190
List Price $12.95
Let us review the facts. Some six months after the disappearance of the author of the texts collected here for the first time in a systematic and critical fashion, Madame ***, one of his close acquaintances, having lost her briefcase somewhere on the way from home to her office, tries her luck at the lost and found department, Rue des Morillons in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. She finds no trace of it there, but from several unmistakable clues, she does recognize, amidst a disparate assortment of items, the expandable accordion briefcase belonging to her friend, with whom she had traveled on numerous occasions. The briefcase in question had been left behind in a taxi, and it is impossible to trace it back to the “loser”—which is how the clerks at the Rue des Morillons refer to the absent-minded. The custody period having elapsed without anyone coming to claim the item, they relinquished it to her. Once open, it turned out to contain, apart from a few articles of clothing, a small pile of books and papers (legal-size hand-written sheets, printouts, pages removed from notebooks or agendas, torn out flyleaves, envelopes, hotel letterhead stationary, postcards, the backs of maps, street guides, etc.) What the texts recorded on these disparate paper formats have in common is that they describe in minute detail a hotel room, almost the way a crime scene detective might, then go on to narrate something that happened to the author either in or involving this location.
"In this witty puzzler of a novel by Olivier Rolin (translated by Jane Kuntz), a traveler with the same name as the author begins each chapter with a description of a different hotel room he's stayed in around the world. These, in turn, become occasions for Rolin (or 'Rolin'?) to tell us of his adventures as a globe-trotting amateur spy and dashing lover. Frenchman Rolin engages in literary game-playing in Hotel Crystal, crossing influences such as Vladimir Nabokov and Georges Perec."
"Visions of Italo Calvino's seminal postmodernist romp Invisible Cities arise as the reader enters the cleverly fabricated world of this novel, originally published in French in 2004, from Rolin. The book's modus operandi is explained in a mock-editorial foreword declaring that 'each [chapter] describes a hotel room in minute detail . . . then goes on to relate an anecdote involving the author and this particular location.' Thus protagonist and narrator 'Olivier Rolin' trots around the globe fulfilling miscellaneous diplomatic and criminal missions, indulging varied sophisticated tastes, including gratifying dalliances with often exotic, occasionally dangerous women. One of the most enjoyable 'serious' novels in many seasons."
"Olivier Rolin is a towering figure in French literature . . . Rolin is a consummate artist who will speak profoundly to the American heart." -Robert Olen Butler author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
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Genres : Fiction : Europe : Western Europe
Countries : France