I'm Gone

I'm Gone

A Novel

Book - 2001
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Jean Echenoz's I'm Gone won the prestigious Goncourt Prize in France and continues to top bestseller lists with half a million copies in print. Le Monde calls it "an adventure story that is also an adventure to read".

The hero of I'm Gone is an urbane Parisian art dealer who walks out on his wife and life to join a treasure-hunting expedition to the Arctic, and soon finds himself caught up in a theft. Echenoz's brilliant narrative -- a suspenseful crime caper, a bitingly humorous look at the uncertainties of love at mid-life, and a witty, satirical foray into corruption in the art market all rolled into one -- reveals why he has come to be known as "the most distinctive voice of his generation, . . . the master magician of the contemporary French novel" (The Washington Post).

Past winner of the Prix Medicis and the European Literature Prize, Echenoz is "in top form" here, according to the Journal de Dimanche, which calls I'm Gone "sheer perfection".

Publisher: New York : New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton, 2001
ISBN: 9781565846289
Branch Call Number: FICTION ECHENOZ
Characteristics: 195 p. ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Polizzotti, Mark
Alternative Title: I am gone


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Jun 16, 2014

Brilliant little book. The ostensible plot is a caper, though nothing is quite as straightforward as that. The story is moved forward through a shipment of valuable antiques, its loss and recovery, and a few romances and other happenstances in between. The merchandise is only vaguely defined, and is obtained most improbably by a voyage to the Arctic somewhere off Canada. After that, it is lost in an intrigue whose outlines are left rather fuzzy, and it's all rather improbably recovered after detective work that doesn't consist of clues and leads that fit tightly into anything like a neat resolution. Either that misses the point or at least one doesn't much care if it does, since the author sweeps one off with other things, and the plot turns out to be only a vehicle one doesn't mind travelling in, mostly for the scenery. That scenery is mostly the women who come into and drift out of the protagonist’s life. More precisely, it’s about how they drift into and out of his life: one's the wife he parts with at the outset, others are less clearly defined women whose interest in him gradually wanes, inexplicably but also quite plausibly--his engagement with them being partial and never all-consuming. There's much to engage, with Echenoz masterfully in command, creating and eliminating characters apparently on whims, yet always compellingly, what with a limpid style that is nothing less than enchanting and an attention to curious details that somehow engage. Though I'm still not quite sure why, he's an author I've been intrigued by ("Ravel: A Novel") and will continue to pursue for some time. Highly recommended.


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