Suicide

French Literature Series
Edouard Levé
Translated by Jan Steyn

Suicide cannot be read as simply another novel—it is, in a sense, the author’s own oblique, public suicide note, a unique meditation on this most extreme of refusals. Presenting itself as an investigation into the suicide of a close friend—perhaps real, perhaps fictional—more than twenty years earlier, Levé gives us, little by little, a striking portrait of a man, with all his talents and flaws, who chose to reject his life, and all the people who loved him, in favor of oblivion. Gradually, through Levé’s casually obsessive, pointillist, beautiful ruminations, we come to know a stoic, sensible, thoughtful man who bears more than a slight psychological resemblance to Levé himself. But Suicide is more than just a compendium of memories of an old friend; it is a near-exhaustive catalog of the ramifications and effects of the act of suicide, and a unique and melancholy farewell to life.

 

“With a precision that can be frightening, Levé describes a man who is wholly alienated from the consolations of the outside world, beholden only to the tiniest shifts in his perception and sensations (…) As the narrator’s revelations about his friend’s inner life become increasingly complex, the reader comes to see “tu” as a stand-in for the narrator’s own self, an externalized form that allows him empathic clarity about the most disturbed parts of his own being.” – Hannah Tennant-Moore, n+1 Magazine

“If this irony-laden book contains a message to the reader it may well be this: “You suffered real life in its continuous stream, but you controlled the flow of fictional life by reading at your own rhythm . . . As a reader, you had the power of a god: time submitted to you.” If one were to substitute “reading” and “reader” with “creating” and “creator” one might conclude that it’s possible to read Suicide not simply as a veiled cri de coeur by a man looking to air the messy circumstances for which he took his life, but as a controlled work of art by a conceptual artist who wanted to leave us with a lasting document from which we might, paradoxically, muster the strength to carry on.” – Christopher Byrd, The Guardian

Suicide is both fiction and final, nonfictional statement, both novel and memoir. It is we, as readers and participants, who stand at the center of these two mirrors hung opposite each other and find the author infinitely, diminishingly multiplied. Though we’ll probably never know whether Levé—who in addition to being a writer was a successful photographer with an interest in conceptual art—killed himself to bring his grim metafiction full circle, it is all but impossible not to read his haunting Suicide in this troubling light” – Laird Hurt, Bookforum

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Details
Translated by Jan Steyn
Publication: French Literature Series
Format: Paperback / softback
Number of pages: 104
ISBN-13: 9781564786289
GTIN13: 9781564786289
Publication date: 4/14/2011
Language: eng
List price: $12.95