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Fiction in Brief

DISCONNECTION By Claude Ollier translated by Dominic Di Barnardi (Dalkey Archive Press, 1817 79th Ave. Elmwood Park, Ill, 60635: $19.95; 127 pp.)

December 03, 1989|SONJA BOLLE

"Disconnection" does the unimaginable. It juxtaposes two apocalypses. In alternating stories, Claude Ollier presents the end of the world twice in one century--our own.

The first vision is realistic, almost prosaic: A German student witnesses the end of World War II. Through the hardships and bombings, daily life goes on. The worker goes to the factory, the bureaucracy cranks away.

The second vision is in the future, perhaps only a few years from now. Some unnamed catastrophe has occurred. A lone man performs the routines of daily life; he has no sense that his existence is connected to anything, and no certainty that sense will be restored. He works on a play as an exercise for maintaining sanity; the piece may never be performed. As he works, he remembers the arts circle to which he once belonged. His memories are the only fragments left of the lost world.

The horror in each story is total, but completely different. The ultimate horror, however, lies in the suspicion that inevitably grows within the reader: These two voices may in fact be the same man. Can a single human being bear two apocalypses?

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