The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan LittellPosted: January 22, 2014
Now, what a strange book! I now eagerly and in vain try to read anything and everything that Jonathan Littell publishes (I'm sure that's post-traumatic Les Bienveillantes effect similar to a drug), but this recollection of various short stories is indeed very strange. Some of them were written before, some after The Kindly Ones, so this is not a real proper new book – rather, as Irvine Welsh once brilliantly put it, some reheated cabbage.
From one angle, the book often resembles the terrific signature style of Les Bienveillantes writing, and you want to think – vow, Obersturmbannführer Aue is back – but the key difference between Littell's style per se (here) and the real Aue novel is the brilliant, mesmerizing, can't-put-it-down story of The Kindly Ones, the one that The Fata Morgana Books lack completely. In absence of a proper storyline, my mind drifted away from the text every 5 minutes, and I had to read, and re-read, and re-read again. Maybe, it would've felt differently in Russian, the language I read The Kindly Ones in, who knows.
So in the end, the book was short, and I kinda suffered through it ))) The étude about the missing planes was quite ok, and the last story had a distinctive Cortázar / Borges element about it – but due to extreme gay part of it, if I now say I liked it, I would probably be in violation of Russia's recent notorious homophobic laws – and frankly, it's not an alluring read for a straight person, umm… but even taking that element aside, the story, to my mind, lacked story – and that was key why it didn't click with me.
Still, even with my lukewarm feel about this book, the eye-opening effect of Les Bienveillantes remains strong – and I will rush to the book store to buy whichever new novel Littell writes. And better sooner than later.