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Museum Visits

Éric Chevillard

Regular price $22.00

CLAIRE'S PICK

A new classic of the PLOTLESS FICTION SECTION. This book of micro-essays, which may also be read like flash fiction, is hilarious, bonkers, brilliant. Translated into English by Oulipian wizard-translator Daniel Levin Becker, MUSEUM VISITS offers strange visions of everyday objects (like chairs, skies, staircases) and imagined encounters with history, language, and catastrophe. My favourite essay is this spiraling elaboration of the possibility that the narrator didn't turn off the burner on which he'd prepared soup, and what if now everything in his apartment will burn and explode, "my books, my archives, my precious manuscripts, and on top of it all I don't even like soup." Like a museum visit, it's up to the reader-wanderer to determine how best to navigate the space of this book --- in brief bursts or all at once. Whichever path is chosen: it's a major delight. -CF

Éric Chevillard is one of France’s leading stylists and thinkers, an endlessly inventive observer of the everyday whose erudition and imagination honor the legacy of Swift and Voltaire—with some good-natured postmodern twists.
 
This ensemble of comic miniatures compiles reflections on chairs, stairs, stones, goldfish, objects found, strangers observed, scenarios imagined, reasonable premises taken to absurd conclusions, and vice versa. The author erects a mental museum for his favorite artworks, only to find it swarming with tourists. He attends a harpsichord recital and lets his passions flare. He happens upon a piece of paper and imagines its sordid back story. He wonders if Hegel’s cap, on display in Stuttgart, is really worth the trip.
 
Throughout, Chevillard’s powers of observation chime with his verbal acrobatics. His gaze—initially superficial, then deeply attentive, then practically sociopathic—manages time and again to defamiliarize the familiar with a coherent and charismatic charm. Daniel Levin Becker’s translation deftly renders the marvels of the original, and a foreword by Daniel Medin offers rich contextual commentary, making a vital wing of French literature and humor newly accessible in English.

Paperback | 336 pages | 5.00" x 7.75"