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Red Haze Paperback – September 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After invoking Nabokov in an epigraph, Gailly (The Passion of Martin Fissel-Brandt) introduces a thoroughly unsympathetic, Humbert-like narrator in this clever little novel about obsession and envy. Recently cured stutterer and unemployed biologist Sylvère Fonda commiserates with Lucien ("not my friend, just an experiment in hatred"), a Lovelace-like figure who has had his penis bitten off by Rebecca Lodge moments after he raped and threatened to kill her. Too diminished and depressed to do anything himself, Lucien convinces Sylvère to travel to Denmark, find Rebecca and speak with her on his behalf; Sylvère does go, but out of curiosity and spite. Once there, however, Sylvère finds himself falling in love with the utterly unavailable Rebecca, a self-assured widow of a handsome naval officer. The third of Gailly's 10 novels to be published in English, this mordant book won France's Prix France Culture. It shares Nabokov's love of doubling, sly clues and base emotions and motivations, but doesn't quite manage his delicious despicability; even after a final, deadly confrontation with Lucien, Sylvère remains a bundle of repetitive affects and affectations rather than a full-blown character. (Sept.)
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“[A] clever little novel about obsession and envy.”—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

"It's the writing that really propels this increasingly creepy story. . . . This isn't a noir novel, but it’s more unsettling than most noir fiction is. Unpredictable (in both what happens and how it is presented), often unpleasant . . . and yet surprisingly successful."—Complete Review
(Complete Review)

"Red Haze ultimately succeeds in transcending the nihilism typical of many black comedies. It’s not until the final few pages that the humor collapses and fundamental questions of life and death come rushing to the fore. . . . Still, it’s hard to rid one’s mind of the novel’s shifty humor, its clipped and uncertain sentences, its surprising passages of lyricism, its sense of play, its beautiful self-indulgence, all stemming from the narrator’s love of language."—Andrew Palmer, Rain Taxi Review of Books
(Andrew Palmer Rain Taxi Review of Books)

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