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03: A Novel Paperback – June 22, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 84 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374100217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374100216
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,575,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A disaffected French teenager identifies with the "slightly retarded" girl he watches from a distance in this elegant and strangely absorbing novella. The text is one very long paragraph, in which the 12th-grade narrator, stuck in the uninspired backwater town of MontpeÌürilleux, observes the girl, "locked in her state of unteachable ignorance," being led each morning by her mother to the bus stop. The narrator finds "ineluctable similarities between her predicament and my own," namely that the two are bound as outcasts against a harshly critical, unjust world that doesn't understand or appreciate them. The drab, oppressive society-- full of phony adults, misunderstanding, wasted talent, and general failure--grates against this youth who, save a nascent desire to become a writer, feels generally deficient and finds a kind of tormented reprieve in the "sorrowful compassion" he feels for the girl who can't return his love. Valtat's narrative proves to be a moving experience of being in someone else's shoes.
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Any book tagged as "experimental" runs the risk, fairly or not, of limiting its intended readership. Valtat's 03--at under 100 pages, as much a sketch as a fully formed portrait--is one of those books, combining elements of the French nouveau roman and an aimless, philosophically inquisitive "story" that calls to mind the plotting of a Seinfeld episode more than that of a Dickens serial. A powerful, quirky study of adolescence, even if some scenes misfire when they slip into melodrama and "half-baked philosophizing and glib aphorism" (Boston Globe), 03 nonetheless showcases Valtat as a risk taker and a lyricist, a trait no doubt even more evident in the original French. Valtat's recent Aurorama, a Steampunk novel set in the Arctic, has been well reviewed.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rugger Burke on October 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is hard to believe that Catcher in the Rye is now 50 years old. If Caulfield had been born today, lived in France, and read Albert Camus, 03 would be the voice in his head. It is both provocative and penetrating. And it will not appeal to everyone's taste.

Not long after Salinger published Catcher in the Rye, Albert Camus published The Fall. Camus's self-proclaimed "judge-penitent" Jean-Baptiste Clamence reflects upon his life to a stranger in a bar in Mexico City. Clamence tells of his success as a wealthy Parisian defense lawyer who was highly respected by his colleagues; his crisis, and his ultimate "fall" from grace, and in the process explores themes of innocence, imprisonment, non-existence, and truth.

As in The Fall, 03 is a monologue. There is no action and no other characters speak. The setting is a bus stop in a suburb of France, MontpeÌürilleux, and the narrator is a high-school boy. From the shelter of his own bus stop, he watches each morning as a retarded girl who waits at the bus stop across the street for a bus to take her away. He is obsessed with her. But more specifically, he is obsessed with her innocence. His infatuation only provides a point of departure for a discursive trip through his mind and all he perceives.

Like Caulfield, he resides in the transitory station between childhood innocence and adulthood, a place where one can clearly observe the future, yet feels powerless to avoid its gravitational pull. He is already beginning to recognize his own complicity in the transformation he so desperately wants to resist.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T Bowden on August 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A bright teenager muses on difference, intelligence, talent, ambition, sexual drive, need, desire, the qualities the bind us to each other, the forces of social hypocrises--and seems to come to a tentative acceptance of himself, gaining an ability to love what he's lost, what he'll never become, and what he never was.
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Format: Paperback
We read 03 in our book group recently. It's only 84 Pages long, so you wouldn't expect it to be such a slow read. But it's also written in only one paragraph, which makes putting it down and picking it up again difficult--how can you tell where you were. And it's written in one slow stream-of-consciousness soporific voice. Some of us finished it.

A young man stands at a bus-stop looking at a girl who he thinks he might fall in love with. She's handicapped. He has no qualms looking down on her, even as he imagines he's looking up. Too smart for his years, like many other French protagonists, lonely, just beginning to grow up... the narrator fits many stereotypes and hardly seems to change, though at some point he switches from child to adult remembering--read carefully or you'll miss it.

03 certainly evokes the loneliness of youth, but perhaps doesn't age well, or perhaps I'm just not the intended audience.

Disclosure: We're wondering in our book group if short books always take longer to read than long ones.
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