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Merle

Merle

Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou

Broken Glass - Helen Stevenson, Alain Mabanckou

this is a novella written entirely without periods, or capital letters at the beginnings of sentences, because there aren’t any beginnings, an entire 10-page chapter can consist entirely of one run-on sentence, which makes it hard to put down because you can’t find a stopping place, though fortunately there are occasional line breaks, like maybe once every few pages

 

anyway this guy, Broken Glass, spends all his time at the bar, having drunk himself out of a job and a wife, and the bar owner convinces him to write, so he writes about the bar and the hard-luck stories of the other patrons and eventually his own, and he and the other guys seem like pretty unreliable narrators but it is engaging on the whole, with a distinctive voice and exaggerated and unlikely stories, and the technique while a bit gimmicky mostly works and didn’t drive me as crazy as you might imagine, because it is well-written, and the author has a lot of fun peppering the text with literary allusions and titles of famous books

 

but then at the end

the narrator apparently drowns himself

(show spoiler)

and I closed the book with a shrug, clearly not having emotionally invested in the story at all, and I can’t give more than 3 stars when a book doesn’t make me care about something like that, though I wouldn’t discourage you all from reading it if you can tolerate the style