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THE ABSOLUTION OF ROBERTO ACESTES LAING
“A haunting debut novel” —The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Excellent and nightmarish . . . Rombes’s novel is a love letter to this art of misremembering’: these destroyed films become as real as any film playing at a theater near you.” —The Paris Review
“Beautifully composed, chillingly paced, and formed of descriptions of films you want desperately to see even if you know they might drive you mad. . .” —Full Stop
“Rombes smuggles the avant-garde into a novel that appears to be realist, to be conventional. . . The oddities of this novel, the ways that it breaks from meaning, often sneak up on you.” —American Book Review
“A novel—and a very welcome one at that—about the right to be forgotten and about the immense joys that impermanence can provide.” —The Brooklyn Rail
“A metaphysical layer cake.” —Diesel Book Store
“A strong contender for novel of the year.” —3:AM Magazine
“Rombes’s knowledge and caretaking of film history, as well as the strange feeling of imagining lost artworks by some of our greatest directors, makes this debut novel addictive reading.” —Blake Butler, Vice
“I very much enjoyed this weird, disturbing, sometimes effe-ed up novel about strange films, lost films, and the fragile faith in the difference between our fictions and our realities.” —Jeff VanderMeer, author of The Southern Reach Trilogy
Interview (including the part about the knife fight . . .) at Weird Fiction Review.
Profile over at The Irish Times.
Thank you to Flavorwire for including Laing as one of the best indie books of 2014.
The second trailer for the Laing novel is up over at Vimeo.The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing, trailer #2 from Nicholas Rombes on Vimeo.
Thank you to Glenn Kenny for his kind write-up about the novel, over here. In part: “[a]n uncanny pleasure, a secret history in a series of alchemical celluloid prose poems. I enjoyed the hell out of it even as it began to conspire with my dreams.”
I’m in conversation at Electric Literature with Colin Winnette about Joan Didion’s novel Play It As It Lays (from which I nicked the name “Lang / Laing).
I’ve annotated a section of the novel at LitGenius.
At Necessary Fiction Steve Himmer kindly invited me to contribute to “Research Notes” for the novel, I write about two filmic influences: Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.
I received, in last week’s mail, in trust for delivery to X, this letter from Berfrois.
And the background to all this is an outlandish, “first-frame-of-each-shot-of-Lana De Rey’s video ‘Carmen'”–submitted through a close intermediary of mine on behalf of X to Berfrois.
Between the Absolution novel and the next, looming letter from X it’s all given rise, as Julia Kristeva once wrote, to a feeling of “perpetual danger.” I’m still feeling around in the dark for the escape hatch.
After class the other day, a student told me she had finished reading “twenty-six sixty-six.” It took me a moment to process that she was talking about Roberto Bolaño’s novel. I had mentioned Bolaño in class. It got me thinking: how do you say the title of that book? “Two six six six” or “twenty-six sixty-six,” as she had said? Does anyone pronounce it “two thousand six hundred and sixty-six?” I’ve always thought the 666 offers a natural pathway to pronunciation, but who knows.
Other number-title books: Haruki Murakami’s IQ84. I know the story behind the title, but still pronounce it variously as “one Q eighty-four” or “one Q eight four.”
Ben Lerner’s 10:04 is straightforward: “ten O four.” Or maybe not?
Finally, I love the implied missing word in Laura Mulvey’s book Death 24 x a Second, a play on a line from Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 film Le Petit Soldat:
“What is cinema?
“Truth 24 times a second.”
For some reason I think of the phrase as “death at 24 times per second” and so read that into Mulvey’s title when I mentally conjure it.
Although I know it’s completely random and meaningless, in my copy of 2666 page 666 contains references to the sixth dimension: “What would those who had ready access to the sixth dimension think of those who were settled in the fifth or fourth dimension?”
One of the nicest side effects of the publication of The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing has been the response to the “Read Your Way to Adventure” form at the back of the book, which invites readers to cut out and snail mail me requesting some ephemera from Laing’s archive. I didn’t know what to expect, and I’ve been happily surprised, with mail coming in not only from the U.S. but from the U.K., Spain, Canada, Peru, The Netherlands, and Japan. These provide a real connection to real readers. The Laing archive is far from exhausted, so keep them coming.
“The text is a fetish object, and this fetish desires me. The text chooses me, by a whole disposition of invisible screens, selective baffles.” –Roland Barthes, from The Pleasure of the Text