Monsieur Ambivalence: A Post-Literate Fable
DescriptionFiction. >2014 Finalist Award in the GENERAL FICTION/NOVEL category of the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards! Set in a village in central France, an American man attempts to sit quietly in a room by himself for one hour, a method promoted by the 17th century philospher Blaise Pascal as the prescription for all mankind's ills. Tempted by almost everything--fine wines, the grandeur of French cuisine, the beauty of the countryside, our hero soldiers on in pursuit of his special brand of solitude and uncertainty, despite the distractions of neighbors and a highly intelligent female companion.
..".a narrative of literary beauty and philosophical depth "--Renate Stendhal, LAMBDA Award-winning writer and editor
"Fuller makes something wonderful here, out of almost nothing: the attempt to sit quietly in a room alone for a least one hour. That he does so in a small village in the middle of France makes it all the more remarkable. Nothing will get in the way of his journey...not love or friendship, not fine wine or cigarettes, not Marcel Duchamp or the grandeur of French cuisine. Lovable and exasperating, a courageous weakling, MONSIEUR AMBIVALENCE is a friend to all of us who cannot seem to live with ourselves, but who cannot stop hoping to believe that someday we can."--Jean-Pierre Bezoux
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"If you can't make it to France this year, consider this odd but endearing 'post-literate fable' by Thomas Fuller. Set in the Auvergne, written in brief, stream-of-consciousness installments and illustrated with grainy black-and-white photos (by a photographer who "wishes to remain anonymous"), the story is narrated by the title character, a man whose goal -- inspired by 17th-century philosopher Blaise Pascal -- is to sit quietly in a room for one hour without distraction. Fortunately for the reader, his solitude is frequently interrupted by his lover, Helena, his neighbors, the region's beautiful landscape, food and fine wines."--Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News
" a narrative of literary beauty and philosophical depth "-Renate Stendahl, artist, photographer and LAMDA Award-winning writer"
a narrative of literary beauty and philosophical depth Renate Stendahl, artist, photographer and LAMDA Award-winning writer"
Fuller makes something wonderful here, out of almost nothing: the attempt to sit quietly in a room alone for a least one hour. That he does so in a small village in the middle of France makes it all the more remarkable. Nothing will get in the way of his journey not love or friendship, not fine wine or cigarettes, not Marcel Duchamp or the grandeur of French cuisine. Lovable and exasperating, a courageous weakling, Monsieur Ambivalence is a friend to all of us who cannot seem to live with ourselves, but who cannot stop hoping to believe that someday we can. Jean-Pierre Bezoux, author, Le Source: Secret Fountains of The Auvergne"
"With a unique pace and logic, the text provides a desirable space in which to consider
any number of interesting ideas about solitude and connection."--Holly Wren Spaulding, Foreword Reviews
Forward Reviews: "Inspired by Blaise Pascal, a 17th century philosopher best known for his posthumous book, Pensees (Thoughts), Thomas Fuller has written an accessible, experimental novel in a philosophical vein, incorporating a similarly fragmented form, and much of the sensibility that characterizes Pensees.
At the heart of Monsieur Ambivalence is Blaise Pascal's assertion that the source of all human unhappiness can be traced to the fact that man cannot sit quietly in a room alone. With this in mind, the protagonist of our story travels with his girlfriend to a small village in France to live and attempt to sit alone in a room for an hour. Pascal's book is his only literary companion on this journey, and the novel traces his engagement with many of the ideas therein.
In the poetic, meandering prose that arises from this project, our narrator grapples with doubt, walks around the French countryside, observes the locals, naps, writes in a yellow notebook, meditates in churches, visits graveyards, avoids learning French, passes the time until he can open a bottle of wine, and converses with Helena, who 'shows me things I've never seen' while he shows her his 'seeing.' Instead of being pure distraction, each of these occupations serves as an organic opportunity for reflection and insight and is therefore a fine vehicle for the sometimes weighty ideas that anchor Fuller's text.
Fuller has dispensed with a traditional story line, and instead assembles a book comprised of compact, often impressionistic vignettes with subheadings like 'Our Village, Exactly as I Remember It, ' 'The Things You Have To Do To Be Human, ' and 'Always Walk Back a Different Way Than You Came.' On the challenge of finding a desirable balance between social life and solitude, the narrator observes: 'It's much easier to be alone here, though when I'm alone I often long to be with others and with others I'm always happiest when they leave, less interested in others than I ever was.' This is followed by a poem-like fragment intended for his girlfriend: '--our loneliness / lasts a long time / and we can never / outlive it.'
In some ways, this book reads like a personal travelogue, set as it is in France, and told through the eyes of an American abroad. The real setting, however, is one man's mind as mediated by Pascal's ideas, lending shape and heft as well as layers of meaning. Also included in the book are plentiful black and white photographs depicting many of the scenes in the story.
The imagination at work in these pages is candid, self-reflexive, and often humorous; it's also poetic and philosophical and will suit readers who already appreciate being provoked to thoughtfulness while they read. It happens naturally, perhaps like the conversation between Monsieur Ambivalence and a neighbor, Jean-Claude: 'I can't remember who spoke first, who began the relationship. It was like cream entering coffee.'"--Holly Wren Spaulding
..". a narrative of literary beauty and philosophical depth ..."-Renate Stendahl, artist, photographer and LAMDA Award-winning writer