Philippe Labro, a successful middle-aged novelist, lies in a small Parisian hospital, suffering from an unknown ailment that is slowly strangling him. Ghostly visitors arrive, their faces friendly with open smiles. His aged father, his first lover, a close friend are among them -- all those he has loved and lost. He is overcome with longing. A voice out of nowhere invites him to enter the long dark tunnel now before him.But scenes from his life distract him -- a young man in the Colorado desert playing "chicken", a bored journalist in a car chase during the Algerian war -- all moments when he had courted death with little to lose. Now, however, his beautiful wife and two young children wait uncertainly in the corridor. In clear, unflinching prose, Labro relates the contest that ensues -- one waged deep in his psyche and in the very matter of his body. Labro's struggle to hear the voices calling him yet resist the lure of death is not merely the exertion of will against an implacable foe. It is an effort to resist Death's insidious, seductive hold on his imagination.An unforgettable story of a man who discovered the meaning of life on the very precipice of losing it.
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Severe illness (and its consequence) are as treacherous to write about as they are to experience, especially when the illness or "death" is one's own. The breach of self-pity gapes, and florid language sweeps down to exalt banal and homely details. Few books escape this to become works of art and wisdom.
Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly comes to mind, as it will for those who pick up Philippe Labro's Dark Tunnel White Light, hoping for a similar effect. Labro's account of his near-death experience does not escape grandiosity. Broken into short chapters (some only two to three pages long), he circles his theme, tossing in enough facts to keep the reader oriented (an undiagnosed but increasingly severe illness; the edema blocking the opening of his larynx that landed him in hospital; the ensuing comatose state). Strangely, he keeps seeing visitors in what appears to be a dream, but no! They're his loved ones. The things is, they're dead, and they beckon to him.
Definitely a crafted narrative (Labro is a journalist and filmmaker as well as a successful novelist), this defines, ironically, its shortcomings. The narrative is most effective when it functions an an unembellished report on a harrowing and mysterious experience. Descriptions of such phenomena as the two powerful and contradictory voices--that which fights for life and that which urges dying--grip us, as do the recurring visits from "the dead of my life" (although an unintended comic pause seizes the reader when realizing that many, if not most, of Labro's friends were suicides or died violent deaths. With friends like that ... ).
Drifting on currents, shallow and deep, of memory fragments, metaphysics, the pull between living and dying, the reader must paddle through puffery to the worthy shore.Language Notes :
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
Description du livre Kodansha Amer Inc, 1997. Hardcover. État : New. book. N° de réf. du libraire 1568362005