which of these le clezio books should i read first?

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— narrowing it down, of course, to books published in english since he won the nobel. GOOD WORK PUBLISHERS!

"War – in the mind of the fragile Bea B., in the infinite icy landscape she journeys through, in Vietnam, in 10,000 years of human history. The war of the title is not merely a war of arms but a generalised state of violence permeating every atom of Le Clézio’s creation. Bea B. searches for clues for the origin of the evil. Under her searching gaze the most everyday objects – advertisements, cars, light bulbs – reveal extraordinary dimensions, as the earth trembles on the brink of cataclysmic explosion."

"Upon an immense stretch of flat ground at the mouth of a river bathed in sunlight rises Hyperpolis. It stands there, surrounded by its four asphalt car-parks, to condemn us – a huge enveloping supermarket. Each of us will see ourselves reflected in the characters who move mindlessly about Hyperpolis, but The Giants is a call to rebellion. This bold and inventive novel is the work of a tremendously talented writer and both an intoxicating and exhilarating read."

"Young Man Hogan’s journey begins in the dazzling streets of a nameless necropolis, and leads across fleeting landscapes – deserts, seas, mountains, islands, cities and great plains – to countless entertainments and adventures in four continents.It is an exploration and a celebration, glittering and exuberant, of the writer’s art and of life itself."

"Adam Pollo, an amnesiac ex-student, has broken into an empty seaside villa. He visits the town at rare intervals and as briefly as his scanty purchases – cigarettes, biscuits, beer – permit. Soon lack of human contact affects him like a drug and he experiences other modes of being: through a dog's eye or a rat's . . . states of heightened consciousness which build up into a terrifying world of glaring hallucinatory experience. Then Adam addresses a small crowd in the town. His unnerving rhetoric ends in arrest and removal to an asylum. And there the interrogation begins . . . With this stunning debut novel Le Clézio was acclaimed as the most exciting figure to appear on the French literary scene since the death of Camus. The Interrogation still holds the power to grip and astonish today. "

"François Besson listens to a tape recording of a girl contemplating suicide. Drifting through the days in a provincial city, he thoughtlessly starts a fire in his apartment, attends confession, and examines, with great intentness but without affection, a naked woman he wakes beside. And, as Besson moves through an ugly and threatening rain, his thoughts eventually lead to violence, first turned outward and then directed languidly against himself. "

"In these nine unforgettable and impressionistic ‘tales of little madness’, the Nobel Prize-winning author Le Clézio explores how the physical sensations we experience every day can be as strong as feelings of love or hate, with their power to bring chaos to our lives. In ‘The Day that Beaumont became Acquainted with his Pain’, a man with toothache spends the night seeking ways to disown his throbbing jaw; in ‘Fever’, Roch finds his mind transported by sunstroke; while in ‘A Day of Old Age’ little Joseph tries to comprehend the physical suffering of a dying old woman. Set in a timeless, spaceless universe, these experimental and haunting works portray the landscape of the human consciousness with dazzling verbal dexterity and power. "

thomp, Saturday, 13 December 2008 12:15 (ten years ago) Permalink

they all sound very french, don't they

thomp, Saturday, 13 December 2008 12:16 (ten years ago) Permalink

I've yet to read any of these, probably The Interrogation would be the place to start though, yes? It's nice to see so many of Le Clézio's books have been translated. I really enjoyed his recent (2007) book of film essays, or love letter to cinema, Ballaciner, though I doubt it will show up in English.

Jeff LeVine, Saturday, 13 December 2008 19:08 (ten years ago) Permalink

they all sound very frenchcamus, don't they

― thomp, Saturday, December 13, 2008 12:16 PM (7 hours ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

With a little bit of gold and a Peja (bernard snowy), Saturday, 13 December 2008 19:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

i don't know - but the covers are great

Zeno, Saturday, 13 December 2008 22:57 (ten years ago) Permalink

y'all is no help

thomp, Saturday, 13 December 2008 23:15 (ten years ago) Permalink

yeah, i dig those covers too. very nice. i dunno, just read one. start with The Giants. it's about a giant supermarket! everyone loves those. well, maybe this guy doesn't. but i do!

scott seward, Sunday, 14 December 2008 00:13 (ten years ago) Permalink

thomp - apparently I already had Le procès-verbal (The Interrogation) in my to be read pile(!) for a year, discovered when trying to order it tonight, so I guess I'll start reading it tomorrow. I know, still no help. Maybe you should just read them all, then report back to us.

Jeff LeVine, Sunday, 14 December 2008 05:48 (ten years ago) Permalink

desert is one of his more famous ones, but i haven't read it. i read some le clezio in french back when i studied in france, but i don't remember them that well. i remember liking the book of flights a lot, as well as fever. my favorite is "the round and other cold hard facts." it's a book of short stories.

#NAME? (ytth), Sunday, 14 December 2008 06:30 (ten years ago) Permalink

there's a really cool edition of le proces verbal available from amazon.fr or chapitre.com that is profusely illustrated by a french graphic novelist named baudoin. it's not *too* terribly expensive, although that's always a relative term... a good gift for the literati in your life who has everything.

#NAME? (ytth), Sunday, 14 December 2008 06:33 (ten years ago) Permalink

If the author is old enough to have done so, and if I have any doubts as to where to start when getting to grips with a someone new I go for something published in the 70s, which means 'War'.

'The Flood' sounds really great tho'.

What's the hit rate for Nobel prize winners? Looking at the list now...

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 14 December 2008 12:12 (ten years ago) Permalink

t.l.s., 1796: he's a bit french

typographical folderol = hurrah!

"The chief named characters are Tranquillity, a slave worker, Dumb Bogo, a mute Hyperpolitan parasite, and Machines, a trolley attendant" = hm!

"Hyperpolis itself is a naive conception: in The Space Merchants Pohl and Kornbluth with a far more primitive technique managed a much more complex forecast of commercial trends" = haha what

thomp, Sunday, 14 December 2008 19:36 (ten years ago) Permalink

for k. amis in 1950-summat, too, that book was the height of sci-fi's acheivement. i don't really understand it.

there are few nobel winners i shouldn't like to read. a fair few of english-language winners seem v. much "gosh, who reads HIM nowadays" — i wonder how true this is of, say, roger martin du gard, who i have never heard of.

thomp, Sunday, 14 December 2008 19:41 (ten years ago) Permalink

You're missing one from that list: 'Terra Amata', which I'm reading now, which is really good, except for occasional outbreaks of tedious self-indulgence (such as three pages written completely in a made-up language, etc).


James Morrison, Sunday, 14 December 2008 22:37 (ten years ago) Permalink

is it you that has the blog? the blog with the book covers? the book cover blog?

thomp, Sunday, 14 December 2008 23:22 (ten years ago) Permalink

Yes, that is me.

Should add that, having read more of it, 'Terra Amata' also includes two pages written in Morse code, and a number of other such odds and sods.

James Morrison, Monday, 15 December 2008 06:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

are they nicely typeset?

i am hedging between 'the giants' (most stupid-sounding), 'the interrogation' (best cover), and 'terra amata' (because i like that kind of stupidity. there's a children's novel by alan garner where to figure out the ending you have to crack a coded message written on the endpapers! this is one of my favorite things)

thomp, Wednesday, 17 December 2008 11:17 (ten years ago) Permalink

Gotta warn you, I'm about a third of the way the The Interrogation and I'm not sure how much further I can go. It's a really fucking boring young man kind of book.

Jeff LeVine, Thursday, 18 December 2008 17:00 (ten years ago) Permalink

that's okay, i got the giants upon recalling (see review above) it also featured "typographical folderol". it appears to be the '75 translation.

it actually reminds me of 'stand on zanzibar' more'n 'space merchants', but i have only read abour four pages. it failed the paper test

thomp, Thursday, 18 December 2008 22:59 (ten years ago) Permalink

Finished The Interrogation - I thought it was awful. Actually surprised I made it to the end, because of all the long, boring, crazy rants, nonsense, and tedious, over-long sections of the book. Of particularly distasteful note is the dispassionate, approximately twenty page long section spent describing how the main character slowly and semi-methodically kills a rat by throwing pool balls at it.

Jeff LeVine, Saturday, 27 December 2008 17:12 (ten years ago) Permalink

^^ sounds better than 'the giants' : /

thomp, Sunday, 28 December 2008 12:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

Anyone left? ;-)

Goddam I'm 70 pgs into 'The Flood' and totally digging it. Its Ballard with a Roman-esque twist which is just, you know, my kind of thing. Maybe I shouldn't like it so much now I said that. Resist...

Love the cover. A few people on the train like it too, I get glances at it.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 1 January 2009 21:21 (ten years ago) Permalink

Of particularly distasteful note is the dispassionate, approximately twenty page long section spent describing how the main character slowly and semi-methodically kills a rat by throwing pool balls at it.

'Terra Amata' has a similarly long, nasty section where the protagonist kills insects while pretending to be their god. Charming.

Will try 'The Flood' next.

James Morrison, Thursday, 1 January 2009 22:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

Isnt 'Desert' translated into English? Or does it have a completely deifferent title?

baaderonixx, Thursday, 8 January 2009 10:05 (ten years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

anyone manage to like this guy in the end?

thomp, Sunday, 26 April 2009 23:51 (nine years ago) Permalink

Not yet. Unwisely bought 6 of his books in one hit, and have read only 2 of them. I'll give him one more shot, I guess.

James Morrison, Monday, 27 April 2009 00:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

Hey I liked the one bk I read by him...

xyzzzz__, Monday, 27 April 2009 21:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

well, nevermind.

thomp, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 22:35 (nine years ago) Permalink

Lock thread!

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 22:49 (nine years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Has anyone read The Flood (Le Deluge)? Any thoughts on the long and difficult introductory chapter?

shaun_p, Monday, 20 July 2009 03:38 (nine years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

"Managed to like him"?! I'm reading War right now and it's slaying me, though also making me wish I could read it in french. I also thought The Flood was great, but apparently it didn't find many fans here.

1 P.3. Eternal (roxymuzak), Wednesday, 17 April 2013 02:53 (five years ago) Permalink

man all the descriptions make him sound far better than i remember him being

the bitcoin comic (thomp), Thursday, 18 April 2013 00:48 (five years ago) Permalink

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