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Big Blondes


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About the Author

Jean Echenoz won France's prestigious Prix Goncourt for I'm Gone (The New Press). He is the author of six other novels available in English and the winner of numerous literary prizes, among them the Prix Medicis and the European Literature Jeopardy Prize. Mark Polizzotti has translated over forty books from the French, including works by Gustave Flaubert, Marguerite Duras, Andre Breton, Raymond Roussel, Patrick Modiano, and Jean Echenoz, and has written six of his own. He directs the publications program at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where he lives.


When a television documentary producer sends a team of private investigators to locate ex-singer Gloria Stella, she flees, leaving the befuddled group always two steps behind her as she hops from one country to the next. Imbuing his novels with a decidedly film noir essence is French author Echenoz's (Lac, LJ 10/15/95) stock-in-trade, but the writing here is neither clever nor insightful enough to justify a vignette-like structure where nothing much happens despite plenty of atmosphere. Nor is it likely to keep the reader turning the pages. This short novel eventually grinds to a halt when the detectives finally catch up with Gloria in the final chapters, which could be called anticlimactic if the story had any arc to it at all. Readers expecting big laughs will be sorely disappointed; most libraries can pass on this one.‘Marc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., Pa.

Daydreaming about the perfect, long-legged blonde may consume more than a little of a man's time; however, trying to track down that blonde, one who has eluded each of her pursuer's steps, may become taxing, both mentally and financially. After serving a short prison sentence in the questionable death of her agent and lover, Gloria Stella, the knock-out blonde and former pop entertainer, chooses to live an anonymous life‘free of reminders of the tragedy, and free of public appearances. Paul Salvador, impresario and producer of TV programs, hires private detectives to search for Gloria, with the hope of re-introducing her to the public as the perfect blonde. The first PI meets his death after unknowingly talking with Gloria‘a death by a fall that is ironically similar to her agent's. Finally, when private investigator Personnettaz is put on the case, the noir-style detective follows the blonde and her alter ego, Beliard‘a tiny brown-haired man who is always impeccably dressed and is always present during Gloria's violent outrages‘throughout France, Australia and India. Echenoz (Double Jeopardy) picks out the absurd nuances of pop culture and twists them into a contemporary detective book. Cleverly written and quickly paced, Big Blondes is a hilarious read. Polizzotti's effective translation captures Echenoz's sense of the farcical. Is the incessant need to find that perfect blonde worth all the frustration? By the book's end, only the reader can judge. (June)

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