Sunday, October 22, 2006

No full review of "Total Chaos" yet, but ...

It's coming, it's coming, maybe. Circumstances will conspire to make my blogging spotty for the next week or so, and I don't even have my copy of Total Chaos handy for reference.

For now, though, I have one more comment relating to music. Jean-Claude Izzo seems to have had music very much on his mind as he wrote Total Chaos. This shows not just in the frequent invocations of music to set mood and define character, but also in a small aspect of the book's construction. The protagonist and two friends who figure prominently are of Spanish or Neapolitan stock. The milieu of the novel is 1990s Marseilles, which has new minorities, some African but mostly Arab. Throughout the novel, the protagonist/narrator, Fabio Montale, compares and contrasts the older immigrants with their newer counterparts. These observations ae commentaries on the main action, something like a secondary theme recurring in a symphony and responding to the main theme.

As in a symphony, the observations build to a climax. As Montale's world reels into total chaos (bodies pile up, killers and victims turn out to be connected in unexpected ways, and fascists of an especially evil kind turn up in high places — or dead), the comparison of poor white Italian and Spanish immigrants with poor dark-skinned Arabs intensifies into identification. In one of the novel's numerous flashbacks, Montale and friends comtemplate with grim amusement the situation of Spanish and Neapolitan immigrants to Marseilles. "What are we, after all?" one friend asks, to which the other responds "Arabs!" and all burst into laughter, the climax and the realization of all that had been implied first by comparison and then by identification.

And this may be the taking-off point for a post about politics in crime novels. Cheerio!

© Peter Rozovsky 2006

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2 Comments:

Blogger Bruixa said...

Some good points here. I find your views on certain aspects of the novel very interesting. And your blog in general - it's different and outstanding.
Magda aka Bruixa
Mól książkowy

December 12, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Dziękuję! There is so much going on in Total Chaos, so many things that are not directly part of the plot, but very much part of the story. There are many things to notice and to discuss. I hope to find more when I read Chourmo.

December 12, 2006  

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