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I'm Gone: A Novel Paperback – May 6, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; Reprint edition (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595589996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595589996
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,479,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Winner of France's prestigious Goncourt Prize in 1999, this novel tells what happens after Felix Ferrar, a sophisticated Parisian art dealer, walks out on his wife one January night. A few months later, after hearing from Delahaye, his gallery assistant, about a shipwreck filled with rare Inuit art, he finds himself on a Canadian icebreaker bound for the Arctic. Ultimately successful in his quest to find the wreck, he returns to Paris only to have the three cartons of art objects immediately stolen from the gallery. As the police investigate, Ferrar undergoes heart bypass surgery and experiences several emotionally unsatisfying romantic trysts. Veering among irony, satire, and more than occasional seriousness, Echenoz both employs and subverts the conventions of the adventure and detective genres in this sly send-up of contemporary art and life. Recommended for collections of French literature and for larger fiction collections generally.DLawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Winner of the Goncourt Prize, this mesmerizing novel wrapped in layers of male midlife crisis and the Parisian art world is so utterly French as to make American molars ache. The elegant, fiftyish Ferrer owns an art gallery, and as the book opens, he leaves his wife. Besides being entangled in a series of relationships with much younger and exquisitely beautiful women, he's negotiating a hunt for some rare antiquities in the Arctic, an adventure with all the weird charm of a hallucination. The antiquities are stolen from Ferrer, and he has a heart attack in the street, but it all turns out well. There's a bit of stolen and switched identity; there's a lot of free-floating existentialism; and there are descriptions of texture and feeling utterly pinned to the metaphorical wall. Hard to put down and even harder to forget. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The writing style is simply magical, and the storyline is strong enough for pure enjoyment.
tGRW
I won't divulge more of the plot because half the fun of this book is discovering why Ferrer is where he is, and what will happen next.
Debbie Lee Wesselmann
I found much of the book to be too vague on the players, and on events that were anything but minor.
taking a rest

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first short chapter of Echenoz's novel struck me as self-conscious and awkward, perhaps a bad translation, and then . . . magic. I could not put this book down. No wonder this book was a bestseller in France. Echenoz has crafted a finely tuned, fast paced novel of intrigue and personal crisis, a combination that will take you to the end of its 193 pages in no time at all.
Ferrer leaves his wife in the first sentence and embarks on a bizarre journey that takes him into the arms of women, across the tundra of the Arctic Circle, and through the streets of Paris. I won't divulge more of the plot because half the fun of this book is discovering why Ferrer is where he is, and what will happen next. The chapters zigzag through time, taking the reader backward and forward, sometimes sideways to another setting at the same point in time.
And the translation I thought might be substandard? Wrong. This novel vibrates with witty observations that could not possibly be effective with a less than first-rate translator. The descriptions and insights, the way one builds to the next, are astounding. Some are simply hilarious: a pack of unruly sled dogs ignores shouts and whippings to devour a mastodon half frozen in the tundra; Ferrer's assistant Delahaye calls "to mind those anonymous, grayish plants that grow in cities, between the exposed pavements of an abandoned warehouse yard, in the heart of a crack corrupting a ruined facade; a Paris that has "still air rich in toxic gases."
I highly recommend this book both for serious readers and those who want to sample something a little different from the mass market paperbacks lining the walls of airport bookstores.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By jzacny@airway2.uchicago.edu on July 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I love to read (trite, right?). I got wind of this book throught the Times Literary Supplement in which they said that M. Polizzotti got an award for translating a Prix Gouncourt awarded novel called "I'm Gone" by Jean Echenoz. So I ordered it....and read it within one sitting and it reinforced my behavior of seeking out "that one book"...the book that makes you read past your bedtime...because of the plot. But also because of the writing and the way the novelist arranged the piece of fiction. Luckily you do not have to take my word on this...just read the reviews from France and look at this author's stellar history (every book he writes seems to get an award). It frustrates me that I in the USA am often not privy to brilliant fiction writers throughout the world merely because their works are not tranlated into English. I thank Mr. Polizzotti for translating this work. What a wonderful read.....one reviewer ahead of me (on amazon.com) said he knew what what was coming before it was read. I pride myself in being somewhat intelligent (Univ of Chicago Professor) and did not see the major "punchline" coming. So maybe the other reviewer knows more than me but I wanted to say from my perspective, this was one of the best works of modern-day fiction I have read ever.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on August 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This short novel is a potpourri of genres--it's a mystery, a social commentary on life in Paris (with the requisite French digs at other countries, including the U.S.), a travel/adventure story, a meditation about love and lust, and a study of midlife crisis. Its main character, Felix Ferrer, a marginally successful gallery owner whose main preoccupation is his own ego, is interested in locating and then selling paleoarctic artifacts from a ship lost near the Arctic Circle long ago, when it became icebound. When the artifacts, his former partner, his wife, a succession of girlfriends, and his financial security all disappear within a short period of time, Felix rouses himself and sets out to regain the artifacts, and, perhaps, some control over his life.

Echenoz is an immensely skillful writer. He creates a fast-paced narrative in which Ferrer ranges from his Parisian art gallery, to the Arctic, where he lives with a seal-hunting family (nice contrasts here), and back to Paris and Spain, and Echenoz makes these transitions seamlessly. His imagery is often striking, and there's a good deal of sardonic humor and light satire about Parisian life. His ability to make the reader see the world through the eyes of Ferrer, and his observations about people, are sometimes startling and original.

Unfortunately, the "hero," Ferrer, is so blasé and so obnoxiously self-satisfied that it's difficult to care much about his world or what happens to him, and the whole novel feels smug. The unnamed narrator's snide and self-important asides degenerate rapidly from cute to annoying ("Personally, I've had it up to here with [a certain character]. His daily life is too boring.").
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bert vanC Bailey on August 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
The apparent plot of this brilliant little book is a caper, but nothing here is quite that straightforward.

Here's how it begins: ""I'm going," said Ferrer. "I'm leaving you. You can keep everything, but I'm gone."" It also ends by replicating the book's title. There's a divorce in opening, after which the protagonist loses and recovers a shipment of valuable antiques, there are a few "romances" (of the Hefnerian, vacuous sort), and plenty else happens in between. Nothing flummoxes the protagonist nor matters much to him--and ditto for the author, pretty much. Thus, the merchandise is defined only vaguely (rough value: two fancy chateaux near Paris), and it's obtained most improbably by voyaging into the Canadian Arctic--where our urbane boulevardier shacks up, improbably, with an Inuit gal whose parents are mildly dismayed to learn he won't end up as their seal-hunting son-in-law. Not much takes any expected turns, or, in a sense, seems to matter much. It's all in the art.

After his return from the wilds, things turn into an intrigue whose outlines are equally fuzzy. The treasure is recovered after a motorcycle ride through northern Spain, following detective work that calls for few clues or leads that unravel toward anything like a tidy resolution. In fact, our suspension of disbelief as readers parallels the implausible sort of gentleman's agreement between the owner and the back-stabbing thief, once found. This last relays to our hero where the goods can be retrieved in Paris--in exchange, one is left to guess, for a cheque?

Amidst these unlikelihoods we see lots of sidelong authorial glances, canny nudges and subtle meta-fictional winks.
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More About the Author

Jean Echenoz won France's prestigious Prix Goncourt for I'm Gone (The New Press).
He is the author of six novels in English translation and the winner of numerous literary prizes, among them the Prix Médicis and the European Literature Jeopardy Prize. He lives in Paris.

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