PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Thomas Kinsella in conversation Jeffrey Wainwright comes to grips with St Chad Hsien Min Toh gives us a Korean perspective Iain Bamforth on Lou and Fritz: Sensible Shoes meets Starstruck Judith Bishop on Love and Self-Understanding in an Algorythmic Age

This review is taken from PN Review 60, Volume 14 Number 4, March - April 1988.

THE MUSE OF SLOTH Claude Simon, The Palace (John Calder) £6.95 pb.
Alain Robbe-Grillet, The Erasers (John Calder) £5.95 pb.

Simon's novel begins with a man sitting in a bar in an unnamed Spanish city. Facing him, on the other side of the plaza, is a bank. The man remembers how during the Spanish Civil War he had stayed in a hotel, the Palace of the title, which was on the same site as the bank, but which has since been destroyed. Other memories follow: of an Italian met on a train who had described to him an assassination he had once carried out; of a funeral of a socialist politician, witnessed from the balcony of the hotel; of a hot, sleepless night spent in one of the hotel bedrooms. The memories recur obsessively, each time in a slightly altered form, and the novel moves backwards and forwards in time, between the man's past and present. The first chapter is entitled 'Inventory' and the last 'Lost and Found'. Between these two attempts at stocktaking, the man considers the events that might have changed his life, but fails to identify them. The youth who stayed in the city during the Civil War and the man drinking at the bar are related only as the hotel is to the bank.

All the characters in the novel have a shadowy existence. They are not individualized by names, but are referred to throughout by the sort of labels one might use to indicate a stranger. There is the American, the Italian with the gun, the schoolmaster, the man wearing what resembles ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image