Thursday, July 10, 2008

Review of Marcel Cohen's The Peacock Emperor Moth

The Peacock Emperor Moth
by Marcel Cohen
translated by Cid Corman
Burning Deck

Marcel Cohen's The Peacock Emperor Moth is a collection of one hundred brief stories ranging from a single sentence to a few paragraphs in length. Concerned with personal tragedies, unfortunate fates and melancholic memories, Cohen's stories are so brief that they often read like a simple plot synopsis for a more complete version of the story. Sometimes they resemble a story idea quickly jotted down and never completed. One such example: "A boy of seven, dressed in the Superman costume he got as a Christmas gift, who leaps from the seventh floor extending his arms for flight." The word "who" gives the text that jotted-down feel, as if this is an index citation or character description instead of a story. It is also similar to the casual manner one might speak of an acquaintance or a relative: "You know, the uncle who ran his car into the library." As such, many of Cohen's stories serve to define the casual vernacular as a means of narrative.

--Thomas Wiloch

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