Magazine article World Literature Today

Bande-Son

Magazine article World Literature Today

Bande-Son

Article excerpt

Bertrand de la Peine. Bande-son. Paris. Minuit. 2011. isbn 9782707321411

Bande-son is a second novel (preceded by Les Hémisphères de Magdebourg, which appeared in 2009), and second novels are often difficult hurdles to clear. Bertrand de la Peine's leap is seemingly effortless, however; he writes with precision, grace, and considerable wit. His style is characterized by that lightness of touch Italo Calvino praised in his Six Memos for the New Millennium. The characters that he creates are pleasingly off-kilter, and the situations that he imagines are gently absurdist ones.

Sven Langhens has a finely tuned ear, and he is bent on hearing sounds that other people miss: a snail munching on a lettuce leaf, lizards running over rocks, crocuses blooming in the springtime sun, a spider devouring a fly. Originally a painter, it occurs to Sven that sounds in the natural world constitute a rich palette for an artist. His recordings have been broadly acknowledged, and have established him as the premier "bioacoustician" of his generation. Electing residence in the south of France, as Van Gogh had done before him, Sven finds a soundscape there much to his liking. …

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