Winner of France's prestigious Goncourt Prize in 1999, this novel tells what happens after Felix Ferrar, a sophisticated Parisian art dealer, walks out on his wife one January night. A few months later, after hearing from Delahaye, his gallery assistant, about a shipwreck filled with rare Inuit art, he finds himself on a Canadian icebreaker bound for the Arctic. Ultimately successful in his quest to find the wreck, he returns to Paris only to have the three cartons of art objects immediately stolen from the gallery. As the police investigate, Ferrar undergoes heart bypass surgery and experiences several emotionally unsatisfying romantic trysts. Veering among irony, satire, and more than occasional seriousness, Echenoz both employs and subverts the conventions of the adventure and detective genres in this sly send-up of contemporary art and life. Recommended for collections of French literature and for larger fiction collections generally.DLawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This fast-paced comedy of art smuggling and sexual vagaries won France's esteemed Prix GoncourtÄwith good reason. After leaving his wife, Ferrer, a middle-aged art dealer with a heart condition, travels to the Arctic Circle to recover ancient Arctic artworks from an abandoned freighter now frozen into the ice. After retrieving the relics, sure that they will make him a fortune, Ferrer loses them to a pair of particularly stealthy and prescient thieves. The novel then follows the soon-to-intersect paths of Ferrer and the thieves, as Ferrer tries to navigate several dysfunctional love affairs simultaneously. Echenoz's protagonist is the quintessential contemporary male, always in transit, always looking forward to the next thing, sometimes almost laughably skittishÄthe novel is as light on its feet as its narrator. The narrative skips between numerous locales, from Paris apartments to a seaside village in Spain to the barren ice flats of the far North, portraying each new place with a vivid sense of mood and atmosphere. Frequent changes in perspective force the reader to constantly reconsider the precarious position of Ferrer and the strange morality of the thieves. Echenoz (Cherokee; Big Blondes) invests considerable energy in descriptions of even the smallest details, giving such unlikely subjects as sled dogs or icebergs lives unto themselves without ever seeming precious. Combining the offhand wit of Raymond Chandler with the narrative agility of Peter Hoeg, he crafts a clever, philosophical tale. (Mar.) Forecast: I'm Gone is a bestseller in France and has been hailed as the author's best novel to date. If it gets sufficient review coverage, it could extend Echenoz's readership among literati in the U.S. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.