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Potomac Books


Coda, Coda, 0803224419, 0-8032-2441-9, 978-0-8032-2441-4, 9780803224414, Rene Belletto Translated by Alyson Waters Foreword by Stacey Levine, French Voice

A Novel
René Belletto
Translated by Alyson Waters
Foreword by Stacey Levine

2011. 88 pp.
$13.95 t

“It is to me that we owe our immortality, and this is the story that proves it beyond all doubt.” With this sentence René Belletto begins a novel that compresses every genre he has worked in—thriller, science fiction, experimental literature, horror—into one breathless narrative in which what is at stake is nothing less than our own immortality.
Playing with the expectations of the reader, Belletto constructs a logical puzzle that defies logic, much like the “almost-perpetual motion machine” invented by the narrator of this novel and his father. What sets the story in (perpetual) motion is a package of frozen seafood. This lowly mechanism triggers a series of picaresque and otherworldly events, from the storyteller’s meeting with Fate disguised as a beautiful woman, to the kidnapping of his daughter, to his amorous reunion with the younger half-sister of a high school friend, to the elimination of death from the world. It’s a funny business, but Belletto’s playful and falsely transparent language opens the book to such serious matters as explorations of death, immortality, love, and the innocence of children.

René Belletto was born in France in 1945. His first book, Le Temps mort, won the Prix Jean Ray for fantasy literature, his novel Sur le terre comme au ciel won the Grand Prix for fiction, and his novel L’Enfer won the Prix Fémina. Alyson Waters teaches translation at Yale University. She has translated multiple books, including Vassilis Alexakis’s Foreign Words and Albert Cossery’s A Splendid Conspiracy. Stacey Levine is the author of four works of fiction, including, most recently, The Girl with Brown Fur: Tales and Stories.

“Belletto’s readers will be happy to find once again the strangeness, the mischievousness, and the atmosphere of looming danger of the author’s early novels. Total master of his art, Belletto lets the doubts that penetrate him seep into us. Life is a dream, he whispers, in a narrative voice worthy of eighteenth-century tales, slyly blended with modernity. And what if death were also a dream? . . . Each of us must solve the mystery.”—Michèle Gazier, Télérama (France)

"Fans of Paul Auster's brand of literary gamesmanship will recognize a kindred spirit here."—Kirkus

"This madcap, metaphysical mystery ably fits perpetual motion machines, immortality, and blood-sacrifice sects into 88 brisk and brainy pages. . . . Elegant and smart, this novella leaves readers with questions that prove incredibly difficult to untangle."—Publishers Weekly Starred review

"René Belletto has built a gripping, thoughtful and satisfying work of fiction."—J.P. Smith, Nervous Breakdown

"[Coda] is both enjoyable simply for the story that slowly unfolds as well as for the philosophical puzzle (and solution) it turns out to be."—M.A. Orthofer, Complete Review

"Coda cuts a wide berth in the reader's mind, beginning with a mysterious package of frozen clams appearing in the narrator's freezer and expanding to include perpetual motion machines, a fancy party, an alluring woman, and murder."—Paul Constant, The Stranger

A French Voices selection of the PEN American Center and French Embassy

Cet ouvrage, publié dans le cadre d'un programme d'aide á la publication, bénéficie du soutien financier du ministère des Affaires étrangères, du Service culturel de l'ambassade de France aux États-unis, ainsi que de l'appui de FACE (French American Cultural Exchange).
This work, published as part of a program providing publication assistance, received financial support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States and FACE (French American Cultural Exchange).

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