Over at the LitBlog Coop discussion of the summer reads is on, and I've chimed in on the only of the books that I've read, Crawl Space by Edie Meidav. The book follows the 1999 exploits of fictional Vichy functionary Emile Poulquet, a man who Our Girl In Chicago smartly associates with Humbert Humbert: charming, morally repugnant, with old-world sensibilities evaluating our contemporary world.
Setting aside the big moral questions that surround a charming, Nazi-collaborator protagonist, the book is beautifully written but not entirely perfect. In my reading the first half moved much faster than the second. As Emile's involvement with the homeless/artist/anarchist/wastrel youth takes over the narrative, it slows down. Maybe it's because it goes from slightly believable (a hungry, broke 84 year-old accepts help from a dreadlocked, tattooed kid) to incredible (that 84-year-old stays among the squatters, takes ecstacy). Maybe it's because Emile, who is so sharp that he can project a past from a quick glance, doesn't notice who's setting him up while the reader has. And with the loss of momentum, the end is a bit truncated: there's a little too much conversational exposition, and the denoumont feels hasty.
But these are minor complaints -- I just had to get 'em off my chest. It's a fascinating and worthy read.