Walter Benjamin Stares At The Sea

C.D. Rose


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Melville House Publishing
25 January 2024
ISBN: 9781685890841
224 pages

From the publisher

“A book that belongs on the same shelf as Italo Calvino’s “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler,” Nabokov’s “Pale Fire”, and several works by Zoran Zivkovic, Stanislaw Lem and David Markson.” — Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

A collection of entrancing literary fables from an underrated master of the form …

Perfect for the fans of David Mitchell, Julio Cortázar and Steven Barthelme are these 15 dreamlike tales.

Welcome to the fictional universe of C. D. Rose, whose stories seem to be set in some unidentifiable but vaguely Mitteleuropean nation, and likewise have an uncanny sense of timelessness — the time could be some cobblestoned Victorian past era, or the present, or even the future.

  • A journalist’s interview with an artist turns into a dizzying roundelay of memory and image.
  • Two Russian brothers, one blind and one deaf, build an intricate model town during an interminable train ride across the steppe.
  • An annotated discography for the works of a long-lost silent film star turns into a mysterious document of obsession.
  • Three Russian sailors must find ways to pass the time on a freighter orphaned in a foreign port.
  • A forgotten composer enters a nostalgic dream-world while marking time in a decaying Romanian seaport.

In these 19 dreamlike tales, ghosts of the past mingle with the quiddities of modernity in a bewitching stew where lost masterpieces surface with translations in an invisible language, where image and photograph become mystically entwined, and where the very nature of reality takes on a shimmering sense of possibility and illusion.

“Every madness is logical to its owner,” one of Rose’s characters says. And it is that line — between logic and madness — that Walter Benjamin Stares at the Sea walks with such assuredness and imagination.