Book: In the Sky
Author: Octave Mirbeau, translated by Ann Sterzinger
Type of Book: Fiction, literary fiction, novella
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: This book reached into my chest, grabbed my heart with both hands, and wrung it out.
Availability: Published in 2014 by Nine Banded Books, you can and should get a copy here:
You can also get a copy directly from the publisher.
Comments: This book broke my heart. There are books you read at moments when you need to read them and this was one of those sorts of books for me. I was left feeling unsettled the first time I read In the Sky, and read it again to see if I could pinpoint what this book was trying to tell me. The second read was more of a revelation, and I’m not going to discuss the reasons in any real depth because, even though I discuss books in a confessional manner, this book caused me to consider my life in a manner that I prefer not to discuss overmuch. As much as I tend to treat this site like a diary, even I have parts of my mind that don’t need to be shown because the contemplation trumps the discussion. That should be in itself an excellent reason for any regular reader here to read this book. A book that helps me cauterize my continual brain bleed is a rare, interesting, compelling book.
Mirbeau is a genius. He portrayed with great intensity a quietly malignant life, a person rotting inside because of tension and fear, a person for whom a blue sky is a crushing reminder that there is no freedom, only a mocking emptiness that can never be filled. This is a book about a man who died while still living, who kept dying long after the disease had eaten its fill. That Mirbeau never finished this novella makes it all the better a representation of the life half-eaten, half-lived, never complete. Ann Sterzinger is also a genius to be able to read these words in their original French and convey such exquisite misery so precisely yet with such raw, bleeding emotion.