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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 01/2018
  • B07815W1BQ
  • 220 pages
  • $9.99
The Old World Dies
Kyle Jarrard, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

“The Old World Dies” is a comic satire on the final decline of France and the chaotic adventures of a dreamy painter of nudes, his colorful models and spinster benefactors, an American swindler, an unlucky taxi driver, a savage teenage gang girl, and a well-lubricated cast of supporting actors, living or not, as they scurry through the great cultural and social collapse. The mad dash for the exits opens to the pleasant tinkling of sheep bells high in the Pyrenees where nature-struck Parisian artists wander through the fog looking for light to the bemusement of the Basque people, plunges into the Sturm und Drang of Paris where the well-heeled cower as suburban riffraff rush the walls and angry barmen in rundown cafés clean their guns and clueless bohemians debate the existentialist night away and pet poodles take to speaking Portuguese, then swings out to sunny California and drinks with a con artist in a nice bar located on a dangerous coastal road, before arriving at a picture-postcard resort in Mexico where a beach artist dashes off paintings at sunset of those who, deserving or not, survived it with all their hair intact.
Reviews
Kirkus

THE OLD WORLD DIES: In Jarrard’s satire, a prodigious artist and a multifarious cast of characters navigate their way through an unsettling urban landscape.

Paris is crumbling. Murderous gangs of teenage girls prowl the streets, and citizens are bracing themselves for a catastrophic civil collapse. Théo Carnot is a painter of nudes who wants to emerge from the shadow of his uncle Raymond, a distinguished watercolorist who recently died. Roland Jean-Marie Aymé is a taxi driver who’s bedazzled by the beauty of his partner, Marina, a “black-eyed creature from Mexico” with a beauty that’s almost “beyond believing.” Then there’s John Green, a suave, if overly bold, American who casually says that he owns a couple of paintings “by that fellow Monet, and I think one by his friend, almost the same name.” These characters intermingle with a vast, diverse network of other people in a dreamlike swirl. There is a plot here, punctuated by adventure and romance, but locating it is akin to discovering the eye of a hurricane. Part of the joy of the book is in forcing one’s way through what initially appear to be relentless, fragmented images and thoughts, in order to understand its central structure and how its characters fit together. The language often apes the moodily introspective monologues of 1950s French art-house films: “Do I look like another man? / The man I know, and there is this improvement. / Roland runs his hand over his head. / Younger? / And older. Both. There is this balance. It’s interesting.” The surreal elements, as when artists find themselves wandering in the Pyrenees looking for light, are reminiscent of André Breton’s Nadja (1928). But it’s all deliciously tongue-in-cheek. It’s a challenge to turn a page without finding an example of Jarrard’s inimitably observant approach to prose: “She had wanted to go out of the station and see Basseville for herself, this place where girl murderers come from, but everything is dark and smoky in the beyond and the high-rises stand like grave markers of a race of giants who died in the crepuscule.”

An intoxicatingly unique literary voice that demands further attention.

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 01/2018
  • B07815W1BQ
  • 220 pages
  • $9.99

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