By (author) Andrew Crumey

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"Pfitz is a surprisingly warm and likeable book, a combination of intellectual high-wire act and good traditional storytelling with a population of lovers and madmen we do care about, despite their advertised fictionality. Certainly Crumey's narrative gymnastics have not affected his ability to create strong, fleshy characters, and none more fleshy, more fleshly, than Frau Luppen, Schenck's middle-aged landlady, a great blown rose of a woman who express her affection for her lodger by feeding him bowls of inedible stew."Andrew Miller in The New York Times"Rreinnstadt is a place which exists nowhere - the conception of a 18th century prince who devotes his time, and that of his subjects, to laying down on paper the architecture and street-plans of this great, yet illusory city. Its inhabitants must also be devised: artists and authors, their fictional lives and works, all concocted by different departments. When Schenck, a worker in the Cartography Office, discovers the 'existence' of Pfitz, a manservant visiting Rreinnstadt, he sets about illicitly recreating Pfitz's life. Crumey is a daring writer: using the stuff of fairy tales, he ponders the difference between fact and fiction, weaving together philosophy and fantasy to create a magical, witty novel."Sunday Times

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  • Paperback | 176 pages
  • 126 x 198 x 14mm | 117.94g
  • 30 Jun 2011
  • Cambs
  • English
  • 187398281X
  • 9781873982815
  • 1,029,252

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Review quote

"Built out of fantasy, Andrew Crumey's novel stands, like the monumental museum at the centre of its imaginary city, as an edifice of erudition."

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Review text

Philosopher-novelist Crumey follows his prize-winning debut (Music, In a Foreign Language, 1996) with an equally pithy and pleasing tale of love and intrigue among the state-sponsored designers of a wholly imaginary city. In the 18th century, a dreamer of a prince decides that cities are far more interesting when they are completely fabricated, right down to the lives of their lowliest inhabitants, so he devotes his energy and the resources of his realm to the perfection of his ideal: a city that exists only on paper. The result, Rreinnstadt, is the creation of an army of specialized laborers, among them Cartographer Schenck and Biographer Estrella. Schenck is smitten when he first sets eyes on Estrella, and so to make her notice him he tells her of Pfitz, the servant of the mysterious Count Zelneck (whose biography Estrella has already prepared), a man whose name he found next to the count's on a map but about whom there is no official record. Presenting the story of the knave-savant Pfitz - himself a devious yarnspinner - in installments constructed feverishly in all-night sessions after work gains the biographer's full attention, but it also draws Schenck deeper into a potentially deadly mystery. Another name is beneath that of Pfitz on the map, partially erased; by doing research on it, the Cartographer discovers a real madman and a real murder, as well as doubts that the fair Estrella is being completely honest with him. In the end, he'll have to decide whether the Schenck he bas always been is who he wants to remain, or whether he must reinvent himself in order to gain what he most desires. Borrowing from Conan Doyle as much as from Wittgenstein, this is a heady concoction, deeply inventive, displaying an abundance of humor as well as a convincing celebration of the lusty enchantments of youth. A real treat. (Kirkus Reviews)

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