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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Tony Duvert

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To purchase District

Title: District
Author: Tony Duvert
Genre: Stories
Written: 1978 (Eng. 2017)
Length: 43 pages
Original in: French
Availability: District - US
District - UK
District - Canada
District - Canada (French)
District - France
  • French title: District
  • Translated and with an Introduction by S.C.Delaney and Agnès Potier

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Our Assessment:

B : effective, sharp, haunting place-descriptions

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       As the title implies, District is about a locale -- a specific- more than every-place, but also anonymous and similar to any number of others. Ten chapters or pieces focus on different parts of it, such as a bar, a brothel, a market. The descriptions and scenes are both detailed and loosely sketched, and shift easily from the realistic to extremes of the imagination, beginning in the opening 'Construction Site':

There were mounds of sand that looked like giant anthills. For the cement; for the children. Most of the daycare center was built, but it hadn't been completed. It didn't have flooring, the children could fall, no cellar, no ground, no earth: the children could go into hell.
       The abyss is all around: in 'The Bar' the drinker reports on the recurring rumbling that's heard there -- and spins it out into a helicopter overhead, bombs dropping, complete devastation .....
       In 'A Billboard', a billboard, showing a couch with a naked figure on it, is described very precisely. Yet there's nothing to it beyond the picture, no text or logos that would indicate what is being advertised or announced:
Thus the various passersby circulating at the level of the massive billboard simply ignore it, and none try to guess at its possible message.
       So also, Duvert seems to be suggesting, so much else around us -- depths of meaning we choose to overlook, or remain blind to.
       Meanwhile, the explicit, written, is presented also as something with an entirely different use:
A book -- cheap; in the train station they're bought to use as toilet paper, on the can you tear off five, ten pages, then slip the book back in your pocket. After several trips it's down to its cover.
       A short, tight collection with stark and vivid imagery ("Near the threshold, a pool of vomit stretches out in the shape of a tongue"), District is an impressive, if small (a mere forty page-), collection of place-defining vignettes.

- M.A.Orthofer, 11 October 2017

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District: Reviews: Other books by Tony Duvert under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Tony Duvert lived 1945 to 2008.

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© 2017-2018 the complete review

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