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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Electric Flesh


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To purchase Electric Flesh

Title: Electric Flesh
Author: Claro
Genre: Novel
Written: 2003 (Eng/ 2006)
Length: 120 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Electric Flesh - US
Electric Flesh - UK
Electric Flesh - Canada
Chair électrique - Canada
Chair électrique - France
  • French title: Chair électrique
  • Translated by Brian Evenson

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Our Assessment:

B : lots of appropriately electrifying prose, and a lot of intensity

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Electric Flesh is wired, cover to cover. The sparks fly from the beginning, and Claro does an impressive (if taxing) job of keeping the voltage up.
       There are several storylines and obsessions in the novel. Much is centred around the early days of electricity, with Edison and others still figuring out all the potential of this newly harnessed discovery. Central to the book: the efforts to perfect the electric chair -- though the theme of current running through characters more generally runs throughout the book. Electric Flesh is also a Houdini-novel, as the great magician toys with electricity too (among much else) -- and has his own obsession, an 'Electric Girl' billed as *SZUSZU*. Then, in the (near) present-day, there's Howard Hordinary, convinced that either "his ghostly granny is none other than Charmian London, Jack London's wife with whom Houdini fooled around" -- or that he's *SZUSZU*'s grandchild by Houdini.
       Howard is also electric-chair obsessed (and is a professional executioner -- though down on his luck since Pennsylvania has just switched to lethal injection). But it's the obsession of all the characters, a variation on the theme that Claro does well but can also be wearing (despite the jolts it offers).
       Electric Flesh is full of charged episodes and writing -- amazingly lively and clever stuff at times (ably rendered into English by Brian Evenson). A good if not always comfortable read, in which much of the pleasure comes from the creative writing.

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Electric Flesh: Reviews: Claro: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of French literature

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About the Author:

       French author and translator (Christophe) Claro was born in 1962.

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