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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Les mauvaises pensées

Laurent Seksik

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To purchase Les mauvaises pensées

Title: Les mauvaises pensées
Author: Laurent Seksik
Genre: Novel
Written: 1999
Length: 201 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Les mauvaises pensées - France
Les mauvaises pensées - Canada
Die besondere Gabe des Nathan Lewinski - Deutschland
  • Les mauvaises pensées has not been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : decent idea, some nice touches, but underdeveloped

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Les mauvaises pensées is narrated by Nathan Lewinski, and begins with him a sex-obsessed youngster living in a Polish shtetl in the early 1930s. Nathan has a problem: like his uncle Benjamin, he has the ability (uncultivated, at first) to read minds -- and, in a way, see the future of the people he concentrates on. He knows it's a dangerous gift, and he tries his best to hide it, pretending he's like every other local kid. Among those he's most eager to keep it from is his mom, who is very worried that her boy might turn out like Benjamin; as she well knows, this particular family trait is more burden than gift.
       When Benjamin gets killed because of his abilities (a murderer figuring Benjamin would be on to him deciding it's easier to just add another victim to his list) and mom sees that Nathan sure looks like he's straying down the same path, she decides that radical action is called for: he's packed off and sent far, far away, to the one relative who might be able to come to grips with this and cure him. Ah yes, it is convenient to be related to Sigmund Freud.
       It takes Nathan a while to get to Vienna, and while he settles in quite nicely his enthusiasm at becoming a case study are small. Soon enough he flees -- and winds up getting kidnapped by Nazi-sympathizers who want to use his ability. Not to further there ends, but for entertainment purposes: they force him to perform in a Berlin club, where he impresses the locals with his nightly shows.
       Nathan's gifts come to the attention of another person, leading to a command performance for -- yes, you knew it was coming -- none other than Adolf Hitler himself. The nature of Nathan's mind-reading allows him to sense what is to come, too, and so that encounter is a terrifying experience for him.
       Fortunately, he doesn't have to stick around to see his visions come true: a devoted fan, Mascha, takes him with her to Palestine. They live on a kibbutz, there's a constant state of conflict between the British, Palestinians, and the Jewish settlers, and Nathan again winds up not fitting quite in.
       He doesn't describe much of what happens after that, but he travels widely for the next two or three decades, and it is then revealed that he has been presenting his life-story to someone in New York, probably sometime in the 1960s. It's someone who might be able to use his gifts, of course, a final twist of Nathan (possibly) playing a part in the events that shape the world -- though nothing is settled here, the ending just a tantalizing 'what if ?'
       Les mauvaises pensées is a slim and fast book, and feels very underdeveloped. Seksik seems so pleased with his premise that he doesn't bother doing very much with it. A bit of lust and horror, and he thinks he has a novel. It's a shame: the idea has potential, and Seksik shows some talent. Surprisingly, it's some of the incidental stuff that's the best part of the novel: Nathan's lusting for a local girl he can't have, for example. Occasionally the terrible guilt he feels at knowing what awfulness awaits is described, but Seksik could have done much more with this too. Meanwhile, geopolitics, in Poland, Austria, Germany, and Israel is rushed through -- and occasionally even feels forced (as though Seksik felt obligated to put Nathan in some of these positions, but without really being willing to fully explore the implications).
       Readable -- in fact, a very quick read -- , but Seksik doesn't do nearly enough with the material (or the character).

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About the Author:

       French author Laurent Seksik was born in 1962.

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