Devaulx Redux: A Few Stories in Greater Detail

Discussions of Noël Devaulx often turn around a handful of the best-known, or at least most approachable, stories.  And the man has written so many: the count was 105 before his last four collections. I have spoken of Devaulx’s economy; here, for instance, is the opening line of his story “The Lady of Murcia”: We had rented […]

Pierrette Fleutiaux: The Queen’s Metamorphoses: The French Angela Carter?

The ogre’s wife is a secret vegetarian, a purger of eaten meats. A girl when the ogre abducts her, she believes him first an angel (in a snowstorm), then a devil (on a beach), mistaking his swiftness in seven-league boots for flight. The child’s perceptions are convincingly presented, and transparently horrifying; for adult readers, the crime is all the more chilling […]

Noël Devaulx: The Secret Master

Noël Devaulx is the secret master of the 20th century French fantastic,” I wrote in 2009. And by that I meant in letters, in essays, in interviews, in conversation, he was the name on everyone’s lips, everyone I was reading and researching. Scratch a French fantasist, find a reference to the former Breton engineer, René Forgeot, whose pseudonym had been […]

Marguerite Cassan: Develop in Darkness

We must refuse madness,” writes Marguerite Cassan at the end of “On the Line,” one of nine stories in Develop in Darkness (À développer dans l’obscurité, Laffont, 1967), and this tension between refusal and embrace, suspicion and abandon, fuels much of the book’s conflict, dividing those whom darkness touches from those who tell their tales. […]

The Water Spider: First of Two on Béalu

To mark the second issue of Unstuck, due out this week, I’m devoting the next two weeks to Marcel Béalu, author of “The Water Spider.” But don’t buy Unstuck for my translation: buy it for more than 500 pages of elephant men and minotaurs, magic charms and lost islands, talking dogs and miniature husbands, orphans […]

Echoes: Correspondences II: And you, reader...

                  “And you, sprawled upon your cushions, watching and listening to me tell my tale, you who believe me but a fleeting reflection of reverie in the torpor that follows a fine meal, are you sure it is any different for you, that each and every one of your […]

Jehanne Jean-Charles

There is something oddly joyous in the stories of Jehanne Jean-Charles, even at their most malicious. The wink of her trick endings is one not of smugness but of merry complicity — a wink from your stylish, daffy aunt, the absent-minded one who wears galoshes, knows magic, and has unmanageable hair. “Isn’t life grand?” she’s apt to […]