Last Words from Montmartre Paperback
By Qiu Miaojin
Last Words from Montmartre is a novel in letters that narrates the gradual dissolution of a relationship between two lovers and, ultimately, the complete unraveling of the narrator. In a voice that veers between extremes, from self-deprecation to hubris, compulsive repetition to sublime reflection, reticence to vulnerability, it can be read as both the author’s masterpiece and a labor of love, as well as her own suicide note. Last Words from Montmartre, written just as the Internet culture was about to explode, is also a kind of farewell to letters. The opening note urges us to read the chapters in any order (a tactic which may have prompted the novelist Luo Yijun to describe it as a kind of “lesbian I Ching”). Each letter unfolds as a chapter, the narrator writing from Paris to her lover in Taipei and to family and friends in Taiwan and Tokyo. The book opens with the death of a beloved pet rabbit and closes with a portentous expression of the narrator’s resolve to kill herself. In between we follow Qiu’s protagonist into the streets of Montmartre; into descriptions of affairs with both men and women, French and Taiwanese; into rhapsodic musings on the works of Theodoros Angelopoulos and Andrei Tarkovsky; and into wrenching and clear-eyed outlines of what it means to exist not only between cultures but, to a certain extent, between and among genders. More Confessions of a Mask than Well of Loneliness, the novel marks Qiu as one of the finest experimentalist and modernist Chinese-language writers of our generation.
- 161 pages
- NYRB Classics (6/3/14)
- 5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches