Dead Man and Company

by: Marie Redonnet

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Dead Man and Company by Marie Redonnet, one left.

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In his preface, Gilbert Alter-Gilbert writes that Redonnet's "genre-defying Dead Man & Company—quaint, quirky, curiously disarming, part haiku, part mock epic, half-mad and wholly charming—truly can be said to be one-of-a-kind."

Dead Man & Company features a handful of "main characters"—a king, a dwarf, and a dead man, as well as "an entourage of consorts reminiscent of figures from the Tarot or from the time of the Black Plague [...] Four hundred and fifty-six three-line stanzas detail the exploits of these characters who turn up, time and again, in ever-new and ever-surprising juxtaposition to one another. Situations dissolve and reconstitute, and seeming finales are marked by a false finality -- what one commentator has called 'never-quite-ending endings' ... As the tale proceeds, the reader is afforded teasing glimpses of a bigger picture, occasioned by the promptings of a secret system of textual prestidigitation and intuitive sleight-of-hand."

A sample:

the dwarf and the fool
have woven
the same rug

all the paths
meet
in the dead man's garden

the sleigh
of the smallest dwarf
has slid down from the pass

god died
without leaving the key
to his closet

in the fool's bag
the dwarf's
fan

the dead man's stamp
is missing
from god's envelope