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Running Away (2009)

by Jean-Philippe Toussaint(Favorite Author)
3.43 of 5 Votes: 1
156478567X (ISBN13: 9781564785671)
Dalkey Archive Press
review 1: Seemingly pointless lengthy short story. The narrator gives, without discernible emotion, an account of a couple weeks of a summer adventure - a trip to Shanghai, meeting with a Chinese man, Zhang Xiangzhi, on behalf of his Parisienne girlfriend Marie, his apparently mutual attraction to Li Qi, a Chinese woman he meets at an art gallery, the three of them on a wild motorcycle ride, apparently with a bag of cocaine Zhang has bought with the $25,000 brought him from Marie, a blur of his hurried travels to Elba to be there for the funeral of Marie's father, and his tender-violent meet-up on Elba with Marie in her grief over her father's death. No resolution of Zhang Xiangzhi's escapades, whether it was cocaine or not, what Marie's involvement in the apparent cocaine purchas... moree was, Zhang's connection with Li Qi, what happens to either Zhang or Li after they drop the narrator off at his hotel, and only the presumption of resolution between the narrator and Marie in the water off Elba at the end. If he was "running away" from Marie, it seems he could not get away. To me, it seemed a bland, pointless narration of an unusual summer adventure.
review 2: I always write these little reviews right after reading the book and before I can actually process the reading, but I have to say that this slim novel is very surprising--somewhat jarring, too, in the way the narrative switches quickly from a setting in China to a setting in Elba without once looking back toward the entire first half of the book. The story (and the narrator) end somewhere completely different than I expected. For a book that entailed a great deal of movement--planes, trains, motorcycles, boats, trucks, horses--the final images are very quiet and, if not exactly still, then tender and gently rendered. The prose is so spare and the characters running so often, that I didn't expect the sudden inward explosions of grief and loneliness and compassion. There are several scenes of surpassing beauty throughout the book, including that ending scene to which I referred. Recommended. less
Reviews (see all)
Super enjoyed this. Intense, emotional and beautiful without being over done.
heard through Laura van den Berg (who writes GORGEOUS prose, btw)
Hmm. Il faut aimer la description.
my favorite toussaint book.
to read
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