Monday, July 23, 2012

ZoneZone by Mathias Enard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mathias Enard’s Zone is a novel that while it can’t be said that it is breaking new ground, but it is synthesizing various threads of narrative experimentation and presenting them in a maximalist style that resembles a grand claiming of new territory. W.G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn, Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey, David Markson’s later work, Bernhard’s endless paragraph and symphonic repetition, Pound and Eliot’s poetry, Joyce’s dreams, and even contemporary journalism on the middle east(Robert Fisk for example) are evoked here. This book if it resembles anything it is a meditation on the bloodstained history of the Mediterranean region, a panorama featuring its killers, victims, fascists, dreamers, artists, and writers. History as a gore stained daydream of a man with a very conflicted connection to that history, a daydream experienced on a train journey, the train taking the place of one of Sebald’s country walks or Bernhard’s museum benches. The World Wars, the Lebanese and Algerian Civil War, Cervantes and the battle of Lepanto, the fall of Yugoslavia are among the many subjects that haunt this book. The brutality of much of it, the book’s length, and the lack of much of the furniture of the realist novel might turn many off, but I found it compulsively readable and a book of prophetic resonance.

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