The latest addition to our Reviews Section is a sharp critique by Adelaide Kuehn of Robert Pagani’s The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist, which was translated from the French by Helen Marx and published by Helen Marx Books.
Adelaide Kuehn is one of our interns this semester (and will be next semester as well, so expect to hear more from her) and is reading a ton of books from both Zulma and Les Allusifs. Over the past summer, Addie also had a chance to intern at the Villa Gillet during the International Forum on the Novel. (An event I’ve wanted to attend for years . . . )
Anyway, her review is a bit testy . . . which seems fitting to post today, post-Thanksgiving, in the midst of Black Friday, when most everyone is griping about crowds, our family, that missing flask of alcohol, the fact that the Lions always suck, the horridness of omnipresent holiday music, the ways in which 2010 was just as meh as 2009, the inevitable gift disappointment right around the corner, etc., etc.
So here’s her opening:
The Princess, the King, and the Anarchist by Robert Pagani follows the three characters in the title during a royal marriage turned violent. The novella is based on the assassination attempt of Spanish King Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia on their wedding day in 1906, winding its way through the thoughts of the three main characters to portray the events leading up to the wedding day. The young, naive British Princess Mary Eugenia Victoria spends the entire novella first having to pee during the procession to the palace and then worrying about her wedding night because she has no understanding of basic human biology. The King Alfonso XIII is preoccupied by an insistent erection while he points out different buildings in Madrid as they move slowly to the palace. In the days leading up to the bombing the bitter and depressed anarchist, Fernando, wanders around Madrid cold and hungry.
The novella is intended to be a snapshot into the royal lifestyle but is so simplistic that it comes off as forced and unrealistic. Even though the Princess has blood all over her dress and sees bowels oozing at her feet, she feels a little bit nauseous but quickly recovers. The King is practically grateful for the disaster because he can cancel the planned dance and can get down to business with the princess. The whole thing is so improbable, which in itself is not so problematic but when combined with the bizarre sexual subtext of the novella, just does not add up.
Ouch. But definitely check out the full review if for no other reason than to read her bits about the wacky sex stuff in this novella . . . And Merry Christmas!
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .
From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .
Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .
Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .
While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.
Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .
The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .
Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.
It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .