Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada

the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Museum Visits

Éric Chevillard

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Museum Visits

Title: Museum Visits
Author: Éric Chevillard
Genre: Fiction
Written: (Eng. 2024)
Length: 132 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Museum Visits - US
Museum Visits - UK
Museum Visits - Canada
from: Bookshop.org (US)
directly from: Yale University Press
  • Selections from work originally published between 2004 and 2017
  • Edited by Daniel Levin Becker and Daniel Medin
  • Translated by Daniel Levin Becker
  • With a Foreword by Daniel Medin

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B+ : good fun

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
World Lit. Today . 1-2/2024 Elaine Margolin

  From the Reviews:
  • "In his new work of beautifully rendered miniature pieces, Museum Visits, we hear the outlandish rantings of a man who finds the world fatiguing and suffused with needless idiocy. (...) Despite his mock aggressiveness, I can only hear him crying for a relief that pathetically continues to elude him." - Elaine Margolin, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       Museum Visits offers a selection of Éric Chevillard's 'short prose', as the editors of this volume decide to call the texts -- Daniel Medin noting in his Foreword that they aren't really short stories, as they: "often consist entirely of observations and imaginings, verbal theatrics and gags, usually at the expense of of the "story" Chevillard could have told had he wanted to".
       Several are museum-visit-related, including the opening one, 'The Guide', which gives a good sense of Chevillard's off-beat approach and perspective, the short (two page) piece a guide's monologue as he apparently leads a group, pointing out not museum-pieces, but rather places, beginning:

     So, right here is where Henri IV ran a hand through his beard, here's where a raindrop landed on Dante's forehead, this is where Buster Keaton bit into a pancake, here Rubens scratched his ear -- let's keep moving, please, ladies and gentlemen -- here is where the marquise de Sévigné coughed, here Arthur Rimbaud muddied his pants [....]
       And so on. The focus is on the incidental -- everyday and evanescent, a different kind of history (and, of course, physically -- locale-wise -- impossible; the guide and group can not be in the space where all these things supposedly happened).
       Similarly, in 'The Museum Visit', the narrator explains how he is an enthusiastic visitor of museums -- but, unlike all other museum-goers, has no interest in the art on display; instead, he explains, when he goes to a museum: "I have come for the floors".
       Among the sharpest pieces is the litany of ejaculation of 'Autofiction', a lovely take-down of the genre, the narrator substituting one expression for spewing self for another, to very good and amusing effect.
       In 'Moles' the narrator's focus is the more conventional and expected one: "Beckett -- that's of greater interest to us", he notes as he writes about a man who grew up living next to Samuel Beckett but who only keeps mentioning that he "used to love tossing moles into his yard". The narrator learns nothing about Beckett, and laments the wasted opportunity the man had in his childhood, certain that if they had been in the man's place: "There would have been no question of moles whatsoever in our relations with Beckett".
       The thirty-four pieces are generally very short -- two or three pages long, with the longest, 'Faldoni', another person-portrait of an unusual character, by far the longest, at sixteen pages.
       These are fun pieces, well-crafted -- Chevillard writes with a sure hand, and translator Daniel Levin Becker's English renderings read equally well -- and engaging, especially in their unusual perspectives; the humor -- often dead-pan -- also helps. Museum Visits is an enjoyable collection, well-suited to dipping into.

- M.A.Orthofer, 27 February 2024

- Return to top of the page -


Museum Visits: Reviews: Eric Chevillard: Other books by Éric Chevillard under review: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       French author Éric Chevillard was born in 1964.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2024 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links