Loves That Bind: A Novel
Emil, the mysterious narrator, has been abandoned by the woman he loves. Filled with doubt and nostalgia, bent on therapy or distraction or revenge, he wanders the city in search of her. Driven by the anguish of rejection and desire, he writes twenty-six letters to his fugitive lover, each an intricately detailed account of his affairs with twenty-six women who
preceded her. Each of these figures bears an uncanny resemblance to a famous literary heroine, from Proust's Albertine to Fitzgerald's Daisy to Nabokov's Lolita to Queneau's Zazie.
One by one, in alphabetical order, Emil's letters adopt the tone, style, and substance of the great novelists of the twentieth century, while, in recollection, his past love affairs grow increasingly extravagant and hallucinatory. As we follow his physical and creative journey, we try to unravel fact from fantasy, emotion from delusion, while searching for clues to the novel's amorous alphabet, the building blocks of modernist and postmodernist literature.
A seductive puzzle saturated with wordplay, Loves That Bind is a linguistic tour de force of remarkable agility and wit.
From the Hardcover edition.
Literary love letters or love letters to literature? Each of the 26 missives in Julián Ríos's Loves That Bind stands for one love affair, one letter of the alphabet, one famous literary heroine. As the narrator Emil moons around London mourning the disappearance of his latest lady friend, he embarks on a most unusual way of getting her back: an alphabetical catalogue of his past passions, all of whom look oddly familiar. Witness this homage to a fellow linguistic magician: "Lo! Lovely! No, how terrible: she has returned. The living image. In her majorette or is it minorette pink miniskirt, closing and opening-closing-opening her knees." Or this irreverent reworking of one of the most famous passages in 20th-century literature: "...she roundly refused to rehearse the original scene of the chamber pot when she spoke in streams, the streams of gold of Erin, that coursing current, and had to say in her Irish accent L'odore, L'eau d'or, je suis ravie, content in the shower of gold, the waters of Lahore pouring now, those of the Orinoco rushing now, go to hell! And she said no I won't No." Translator Edith Grossman reproduces the quicksilver turnings of R&iacoute;os's prose with wondrous skill--no small task, given his predilection for wordplay and puns. There's a fine line between the pleasures of seduction and the pleasures of language, and Ríos straddles it with infectious delight. Part satire, part inspired postmodern pastiche, Loves That Bind woos the reader with both sensuality and wit. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. This inventive yet sweet novel by one of Europe's most imaginative and playful novelists engages first the mind and eventually the heart. Emil, our poor, bedraggled narrator, addresses his many stories and musings to the mysterious woman who abandoned him. Wandering about London, he recounts his past lovers, a sort of postmodern version of Julio Iglesias singing "To All the Girls I've Loved Before." In true Rios manner, the list follows alphabetically and contains only women who bear a striking resemblance to literary heartbreakers, beginning with Proust's Albertine, Fitzgerald's Daisy, and on to Nabokov's Lolita. This could all be construed as fun and games--indeed, Rios includes a heady dose of wordplay and punning--or perhaps as mere frustration for those not up on their world literature. But Rios--the author of Larva: Midsummer's Night's Babel (1990) and Poundemonium (1997)--is after more than this. Emil's obsessive musings about these grand, extravagant loves serves to contextualize, memorialize, and, in a strange way, humanize his own lost love. It is as though only by invoking literary archetype can this most erudite and experimental of novelists make an ex-lover come movingly to life. Cerebral stuff but also passionate. Expertly and stylishly translated by Edith Grossman. Brian Kenney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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