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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Discreet Pleasures
of Rejection

Martin Page

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To purchase The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection

Title: The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection
Author: Martin Page
Genre: Novel
Written: 2008 (Eng. 2010)
Length: 182 pages
Original in: French
Availability: The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection - US
The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection - UK
The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection - Canada
Peut-être une histoire d'amour - Canada
Peut-être une histoire d'amour - France
  • French title: Peut-être une histoire d'amour
  • Translated by Bruce Benderson

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting premise, reasonably well played out (but relies too much on quirkiness)

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection has a fine premise: Virgil comes home one day after work and finds a message on his telephone answering machine:

It's Clara. I'm sorry, but I'd rather stop here. I'm leaving you, Virgil. I'm leaving you.
       But this isn't your usual case of someone getting dumped: Virgil has no recollection of a girlfriend named Clara .....
       The fragile, quirky Virgil immediately looks for answers from his psychoanalyst; she refers him for a CAT scan -- and it makes sense to him that he must be suffering from some neurological disease, eating up his memory and mind. Even before he gets the scan he decides that it must be terminal, and he sets about preparing for the end: he has his telephone and electricity shut off, and gives notice on his apartment (in a building where all the other apartments are used by prostitutes to go about their business). Naturally, when the scan comes back negative this leads to some problems .....
       Virgil works in advertising, which he feels somewhat ambivalent about:
Virgil wondered if his choosing this profession was a way of accomplishing a nihilistic act, like a timid Nechayev, because through it he was participating in total annihilation in a way that was more effective than bombing.
       Now, however, he's unwilling to accept a promotion and raise at work, which makes his employers very uncomfortable.
       The search for Clara, and/or a memory of Clara consumes most of Virgil's thoughts and time -- as does the meaning of his amnesia (if that's what it is) about their relationship. As one of his friends puts it:
You ought to concern yourself with discovering why you don't remember her, and not why she acted as she did. The real mystery is your amnesia.
       Page plays around with the ideas quite well, and Virgil's quest is entertaining enough. And while the protagonist is an off-beat character, at least the novel isn't drowned in quite as much quirkiness as Page's How I Became Stupid; nevertheless, Page still relies on that too much (it's a thin line between being charming and being annoying, and Page crosses that line too often).
       A modest little read, The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection is a readable, gentle comedy. It's fine, but nothing special.

- M.A.Orthofer, 6 December 2009

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The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection: Reviews: Martin Page: Other books by Martin Page under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of French literature

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About the Author:

       French author Martin Page was born in 1975.

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