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Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Babylonian Trilogy by Sebastien Doubinsky (Spotlight Review by Liviu Suciu)



From PS Publishing I am presenting The Babylonian Trilogy by Sebastien Doubinsky

The Babylonian Trilogy is just a plain weird but mesmeric book made out of three independent but interconnected novellas all taking places in a modern but "fantastic" city of the title which is a mixture of an European contemporary city and an US metropolis.

The Birth of Television According to Buddha is a very episodic novella focusing on a bunch of characters and some dramatic happenings. At about 100 pages it packs the punch of a novel three times its size. This story mixes weirdness with the dramatic and it's just superb. War, love, high stakes journalism, the life of the modern writer, a strange dog and the spectrum of colors as metaphors are some of the "goodies" in this piece. This story is almost "un-reviewable", without major spoilers, you gotta read it and it will truly hook you.

Yellow Bull which is the longest piece of trilogy at about 140 pages is focused on a high ranking policeman Georg Ratner and his hunt for a serial killer which is helped by prophetic dreams and some pieces of old fashioned logical deduction; but of equal interest to us is Georg's personal life torn between his brain-dead wife Barbara and his "girlfriend" Laura, while Sheryl Boncouer a journalist with a flair for the dramatic turned show host at the end of the previous story, provides the main link with what came before. This story is more conventional than the opening one, in the tradition of "absurd fantastic" though it is as enjoyable and superb as
The Birth of Television According to Buddha.

The Gardens of Babylon is considerably shorter and focuses on three characters, a "legal" assassin Jimmy, a stripper and drug addict whose poet boyfriend Sal has just died overdosed and unpublished and an underground writer, friend and literary heir of Sal. This story is the most conventional of all and while it uses the Babylon setting for minor weird details, it also could be a regular "drugs, crime-lords and slums" story set in any modern city. For this reason I liked it somewhat less than the previous two, but the writing is still superb. Also while Sheryl makes a cameo appearance here too, the Babylon of this story seems somewhat different than the one of the preceding two stories.

Overall I enjoyed tremendously The Babylonian Trilogy and while it is definitely not for everyone, I highly, highly recommend it for connoisseurs of fine literature of the absurd, weird and fantastic.

For me Sebastien Doubinsky instantly became an author to follow based on this magnificent work.


Follow-up to original post: Sebastien Doubinsky answers Liviu's question regarding future plans:

"
As for more texts about Babylon itself, no - but other cities, yes. My project is to work on "Cities-States" entities, a little bit like the Mayan cities or the Renaissance European cities, transposed in modern/future/parallel times. I have two manuscripts already, one about Saint Petersburg called "Absinth" and which deals with the Apocalypse failing - and another called "The Potemkin Overture", which is a Zamyatiniesque portrait of our democracies and set in Viborg-City."

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