Rupert: A Confession

Scout's honor: On a purely linguistic level, there was something about Pfeijffer's sentences with their direct, unbuttoned elegance that reminded me of Philip Roth. This comparison shimmered in my mind before I got to the third chapter of Rupert: A Confession, where an uproarious bit of mortification ties the novels lineage to Portnoy's Complaint. Let's just say here, too, is a novel for those who aren't made skittish by a torrent of testosterone. Like its predecessor, Rupert takes the form of a personal disclosure, though its end point is much darker. Appearing before a jury, the eponymous narrator seeks to exculpate himself from a violent incident. His means for accomplishing this are peculiar. A self-proclaimed master in the arts of memory, Rupert leads his auditors on a tour of his carnality, which he hopes will show that he could not have committed the offense under scrutiny. His aide-memoire is the city's surrounding geography. His hubris is such that he conflates his precision in delineating the qualities, for example, of a good public square, which he overlays with erotic overtones with moral rectitude. At length, what creeps out from the basement of his increasingly frazzled narrative as initially funny details grow warped are the grotesque consequences of a life devoted to spectating and celebrity envy. (Spoiler alert: If at the end you wonder who the victim is, go back to the above-mentioned chapter.) Indeed, perhaps the final surprise of Rupert: A Confession is how closely allied it is to the work of The Society of the Spectacle author, Guy Debord.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."