Beatrice and Virgil
Spiegel&Grau (Random House imprint)
197 pg + 13 Games for Gustav
Henry has been working on his second novel. More of a "flip book"; one half is a nonfiction essay and the other is the book. Both cover the same subject and neither can do without the other. Henry is being flown to the states to meet with a team regarding his book. He's excited until he realizes they are not praising him. Discouraged, he moves his wife across the ocean, somewhere abroad, to start over.
Throughout their stay, Henry takes a variety of jobs but not writing. Until he receives a small package from someone near him. They don't know how close he is especially since Henry has always used a pseudonym. The package contains a short story by Gustave Flaubert, an excerpt from a play, and a short cryptic note signed by someone also named Henry. This Henry turns out to be a taxidermist, "it's dying. The taxidermy business is a dying business."
Let me just say, this is not what I had in mind. Beatrice and Virgil includes lots of killing. Lots and lots of animal killing that is described in detail. It includes a play, titled Beatrice and Virgil, that I understood on a purely cerebral level but rejected emotionally. Throughout, I alternated between seeing what Martel was trying to do, at least out of the corner of my eye, and trying to figure out why he was doing it. Often, I just didn't feel I was bookish enough to appreciate what I'm sure was a complex and many layered tale.
It was a story about Henry the writer, wrapped around a story about Henry the taxidermist, tied up with a play about Beatrice and Virgil - all of which left me feeling creeped out. There was a moment when I questioned whether the Henries were one and the same, that maybe writer Henry was so distraught he became taxidermist Henry to approach his story a different way. I wasn't correct but I was close. Throughout the novel I felt Martel himself leaking into the story - telling me what to think and feel, a little too conspicuous. Overall, Beatrice and Virgil was thought-provoking and makes me want to read Dante but not anytime soon.
Random house is giving away a copy of Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel. Please enter your name and email address in the form to enter the drawing. Drawing ends Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 11:59pm.
About The Author
Yann Martel is the author of the internationally acclaimed 2002 Man Booker Prize winning novel Life of Pi.
Connect with Yann Martel
Beatrice and Virgil website
Yann Martel Facebook
TLC Book Tour Stops
In The Next Room
Full Tour Schedule
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Random House.