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Denis Emorine. Closing Time.  Translated from the French by Brian Cole. JAC Publishing & Promotions. ISBN 1-60513-117-2.
JAC #2011-0022.

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About Denis Emorine

Denis Emorine is the author of short stories, essays, poetry, and plays. He was born in 1956 in Paris and studied literature at the Sorbonne (University of Paris). He has an affective relationship to English because his mother was an English teacher. His father was of Russian ancestry.
His works are translated into several languages. His theatrical output has been staged in France, Canada ( Quebec) and Russia. Many of his books (stories, drama, poetry) have been published in the USA.

Writing, for Emorine, is a way of harnessing time in its incessant flight. Themes that re-occur throughout his writing include the Doppelgänger, lost or shattered identity, and mythical Venice (a place that truly fascinates him). He also has a great interest for Eastern Europe. Denis Emorine collaborates with various other reviews and literary websites in the U.S., Europe and Japan both in French and in English..

In 2004, he won first prize for his poetry at the Féile Filiochta International competition.
His poetry has been published in Pphoo (India), Blue Beat Jacket (Japan), Magnapoets (Canada), Snow Monkey, Cokefishing, Be Which Magazine, Poesia and Journal of ExperimentalFiction (USA).

His texts also appear on numerous e-zines such as: Anemone Sidecar, Cipher Journal, Mad Hatters' Review, Milk, The Salt River Review, Istanbul Literary Review, Like Birds Lit, Wilderness House Literary Review, Sketchbook, Literary World.

Emorine’s webpage is   http://denis.emorine.free.fr/ul/english/accueil.htm

 

Commentary

Cast

ISABELLE: The owner of the café, 35 years-old
FRANÇOIS: The customer, 40 years-old.
OTHER potential customers (optional)

Synopsis: The café is about to close. One customer, François refuses to leave. The owner, Isabelle, is worried. What does this individual want from her? How can she make him leave? The conversation starts...

The Setting: In a little provincial village, a café that might be called “Welcome Corner,” or something similar.



Preface by Michael T. Steffen*

Closing Time is a play in one act that examines the delicate dilemma of a prospective second love, a fresh-life romance in the making between a café owner (Isabelle) who is a widow of a seemingly faded grief and a client (Francois) who is agonizingly enduring a recent split with his sweetheart (Helen). As the drama unfolds, many contradictions and reversals (typical of play-write Denis Emorine’s dramatic chess-playing) are revealed. Francois, slightly older than Isabelle, proves much more vulnerable (even infantile in his stubbornness and unreasonableness) in the encounter due to the open wound of his new loss. Isabelle, more spiritually mature and with a tougher exterior (Ionesco might call her by her initial appearance a pachyderm) from her survival in grief, reveals an unexpected naivety and readiness to fall for this sudden opportunity of a relationship. Dominance and defiance exchange places between the characters. Isabelle is trying to close her café and urges Francois who is loitering over another glass of milk to leave. But he bandies excuses with her and lingers on. Not long after we find Francois on the verge of leaving and now it’s Isabelle who insists that he stay. These reversals in roles are reminiscent of other Emorine plays. In On the Platform a young woman in love awaiting the arrival of her fiancé at a train station has her pride and confidence tested and overturned by the disturbing conversation of a more or less undesirable middle-age stranger. He turns out to have an ominous announcement for her. In another of Emorine’s dramas, Passions, the prolonged accusative anger of one man who has been duped is transformed into fear and regret at the absolute silence of his companion. The talent of Emorine as a dramatist lies in his working out of the unpredictable wavering in the emotional polarities that are disclosed in human relationships: power/vulnerability, assurance/doubt, anger/remorse, hope and despair. Focused and minimalist (intimating a deliberate silence that surrounds our perceptions, propositions and responses to others), these brief yet concentrated plays project an intense insularity that can be perceived as the private intentions and misgivings of any individual’s interior psychology. Our minds are stages where otherness multiplies into imaginary roles. This is the quality that is bound to fascinate readers, directors, actors and audiences to the conscious, artful and deeply human qualities of Emorine’s dramatic vision. A distinguished poet—prized by Felie Filiochta (2004) and by the Academie du Var (2009)—Denis Emorine brings a suggestively insightful vernacular to his dialogues which are credibly cadenced and spaced for the ear, offered to readers of English in Brian Cole’s spellbound translations. It is noteworthy how Cole has preserved the native spirit of the language of the original in his renditions. In Closing Time, exchanges advancing and retreating, reaching and emphatically protesting in this love to be or not to be waltzes Isabelle and Francois through the movements of the play’s strategy, evocative at once of fairy tale and Beckett burlesque. The result is an effortless work sure to leave readers and audiences wanting more.

*Michael Todd Steffen did his university studies in Literature and French at Belmont in Nashville, Tennessee. On a Rotary International Fellowship he received his MA in Renaissance Studies from Sussex University in Brighton, England, and went on to live in France, writing, translating and teaching throughout the 1990s. He has had poetry published in ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), in Ibbetson Street and in Wilderness House Literary Review, and was the recipient for first prize in poetry at the 2007 Somerville News Writers Festival. His first book Partner, Orchard, Day Moon is to be published in 2011 by Červená Barva Press. He currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
 

 

 

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