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Last Words From Montmartre (2014)

by Qiu Miaojin(Favorite Author)
4.05 of 5 Votes: 2
1590177258 (ISBN13: 9781590177259)
NYRB Classics
review 1: “Only a spirit of artistic sincerity can console the souls of humankind," Taiwanese novelist Qui Miajin writes in the Last Words from Montmartre. Qiu was 26 when she took her life in Paris on June 25, 1995. At the time, she was studying psychology and feminism at the University of Paris VIII, and her first novel, Notes of a Crocodile (1994), had already achieved cult status among lesbian readers. In one of the 20 letters that make up her Last Words from Montmartre, Qui writes: "After I returned to Paris back in March, sometimes I would walk along the Seine around ten at night and imagine myself writing a novel called Last Words to Those I Have Loved Deeply, and envisioned concluding each individual letter with the words 'Save me'!” While her posthumous book is consi... moredered to be a work of fiction which tells the story of lost love, it is also tempting to read it as Qui's semi-autobiographical suicide note. Her fiction cannot be disentangled from her own biography. (Qui's book is dedicated, "For dead little Bunny and Myself, soon dead.") Ultimately, however, Last Words may be read as a Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman in search of meaning in the pre-Internet world, whether through her heartbreaking romantic relationships, or through the avant-garde literature, films, and sculpture of André Gide, Jean Genet, Andrei Tarkovsky, Theodoros Angelopoulous and Paul Landowski. Qui writes, "I'm an artist, and what I really want is to excel in my art . . . My goal is to experience the depths of life, and to express this through my art. All other accomplishments mean nothing to me. If I can only create a masterpiece that achieves the goal I've fixed my inward gaze upon during my creative journey, my life will not have been wasted." Last Words from Montmartre is that dark and melancholy masterpiece.
review 2: If Young Werther was a lesbian Taiwanese women in Paris in 1996 this would be his "Sorrows." And written in epistolary form to boot. And it has the strange sense where you start to wonder whether the "other", the rejecting lover, the subject and recipient of all those emotional words and sentence, even exists. This book is a the romantic tour-de-force of the modern queer world. But it is also a novel that makes, terrifically, blurs the lines between reality and fiction. I knew Qiu's biography so it was hard to read the book without that in mind. This book is, right from the beginning in the dedication, a suicide note. And thus hard to read to say the least. But, as Heinrich puts in the afterword, where does the novel end and Qiu's life begin? Did she literally write her own death and follow it in reality? I can't believe I'm even writing that myself. Why would anyone do that? A dedication to art that many claim, but is Qiu taking it to a whole other level. And of course sex is important too, gender and sexuality and just plain sex (which of course often leads to betrayal and pain). These letters are intense, the voice is vivid and strong and strange, the opinions varied and conceited and strict. But how someone is able to live and write and love is what most novelists aspire to discover (or at least explore), and not many have done it like Qiu did. But the search clearly took a toll. less
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Heartbreaking stuff about that bunny.
Beautiful, intense, sad.
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