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Booklist: "a likely hit not just with fans of noir (including Izzo’s own Marseilles trilogy) but also with devotees of Charles Bukowski, Hubert Selby Jr., and other great modern tragedians."

Date: Oct 1 2008

Paris is freezing, and when his friend Titi dies curled up in the subway, Rico decides to head for Marseilles, drawn by the sun and sea, and by memories of his youthful love, Léa. So begins the graceful, slow-motion ballet of Rico’s journey to the coast—and back through his life—a descent into hell amid the echo of closing doors: the loss of wife and son, of sobriety, of career, of parents, of love, of self-respect, until at last he is transformed into a social and psychological ghost, haunting the streets and haunted by the past. Other down-and-outs share his road—the predatory Dédé, the reserved Félix, and the Bosnian prostitute Mirjana, who is held together against the harsh mistral of Avignon by a hollow hatred of the man who killed her family and who, like Rico, has “forgotten how to cry with happiness.” There are surprises waiting in Marseilles, for the reader, if not for Rico. Like a chanson by Jacques Brel or Charles Aznavour, Izzo’s harsh, honed prose perfectly embodies that Gallic genius for balancing bleak unsentimentality with intense, frank emotion, making this a likely hit not just with fans of noir (including Izzo’s own Marseilles trilogy) but also with devotees of Charles Bukowski, Hubert Selby Jr., and other great modern tragedians. Readers’ deepest sadness will be that Izzo’s own premature death has left little else to translate.

by David Wright

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