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In sixteen ferocious short stories French author Luc Lang encapsulates the brutality of everyday life. Each tale is an admixture of tragedy, comedy, ridicule, and pain. Compassion lurks somewhere, perhaps, but pity is conspicuous by its absence.
Lang’s curt, agitated prose disassembles daily life with a swift, unflinching hand and examines it with a sharp, analytic eye. Skinning quotidian moments to bare, raw impulses, confusions, and the agonies underneath, the stories in Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor show the mundane grind of the everyday forces that are fueled by cruel calculation and amoral happenstance and shot through with bizarre surprise. The results are at once coldly comic and powerfully tragic.
Interpreting human interactions as a series of precise jabs and desperate flailings, Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor tells truths about the darker sides of our potential and our well-meaning urges dimmed by chance.
“Like Francis Bacon, Luc Lang sets out ‘to paint not the horror but the scream.’”—Jean-Claude Lebrun, L’Humanité
From the author: “One day in the early 1990s I heard a news report on the radio. There, in the incandescence of the facts, was a model for fictional narrative. . . . A woman pulls up in the fast lane of a highway and begins to change a wheel, as though on the hard shoulder. Just as she is removing the wheel with the blow-out, she is struck by a fast-moving automobile and killed, borne aloft along with her wheel, her jack, and her car's rear fender—bone, flesh and metal exploding on the hood of the other vehicle. Was she stupid? Was her psychological makeup to blame? Her mental state at that particular moment? Her age? Sex? Family history? Her psycho-socio-historico blah-blah-blah background? Who cares? Only the act matters, in all its madness, all its intensity. . . . The act in itself reveals and illuminates our whole world.”—Luc Lang, Délit de Fiction (Notes for a Poetics of the Novel). Paris: Gallimard, 2011
1. UP↑ DOWN↓ FRAGILE
5. Private Life
7. Mad Love
8. The Cold Chain
10. Air Conditioned
17. The Lord's Day