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Review of The Peacock Emperor Moth by Marcel Cohen, translated by Cid Corman, Burning Deck

Marcel Cohen's The Peacock Emperor Moth is a collection of one hundred brief stories ranging from a single sentence to a few paragraphs in length. Concerned with personal tragedies, unfortunate fates and melancholic memories, Cohen's stories are so brief that they often read like a simple plot synopsis for a more complete version of the story. Sometimes they resemble a story idea quickly jotted down and never completed. One such example: "A boy of seven, dressed in the Superman costume he got as a Christmas gift, who leaps from the seventh floor extending his arms for flight." The word "who" gives the text that jotted-down feel, as if this is an index citation or character description instead of a story. It is also similar to the casual manner one might speak of an acquaintance or a relative: "You know, the uncle who ran his car into the library." As such, many of Cohen's stories serve to define the casual vernacular as a means of narrative.

--Thomas Wiloch