Published by Grove Atlantic on 6/3/2014
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Three years after Gustavo last spoke to his friend Daniel, he gets a call from the psychiatric ward where Daniel has been held since his fiancée’s murder. Claiming he wishes to confess the truth behind the murder, Daniel asks Gustavo to visit the ward, reeling him into a dark world of Daniel’s past. As Gustavo listens, he realizes the truth will come only if he can piece together the stories Daniel tells with remnants gathered from the life he left behind.
While some translations can suffer from stiff sentences and clipped phrases, the language in The Antiquarian is wonderfully lyrical. It feels as though the beauty in the original work was simply moved onto new pages rather than being rearranged or lost, which is an important detail. Though, at its core, the novel has the plot of a murder mystery, it is the prose and Gothic mood that moves it into a wholly new category.
The Gothic tones that permeate the novel will appeal to readers looking for a contemporary Poe, but Patriau’s answers are buried a bit deeper. For those willing to dive into the madness he creates, The Antiquarian is well worth the ride.