On the High Wire was written in 1972, when Petit was all of 23, and Paul Auster’s new translation of the book has just been published by New Directions. On the High Wire (2019) is a little (ahem, petit) thing, all of 115 pages including notes, with a trim size—4.5” x 7.3”—to match. In the hand it feels like a guidebook and reads like a dream diary. The book is both of those things.
The realm of storytelling is a sacred one, and not just for authors and readers, but for our culture as a whole. As the novel makes readily apparent, if we neglect or ignore our collective pasts, our stories, then we risk losing the most important part of us forever.
Note the first rule of an Oyeyemi book: there are many ways of seeing—nothing is more arrogant than trusting only one set of eyes.
Guided by poets including Shakespeare, Homer, and Milton, Principles of Economics asks: can we stave off or transform grief by creating a faithful copy of the departed, by remembering everything in the manner of Borges’s Funes?
In this collection the social scale is high and expensive: in London one of the couples stays at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, and Potomac Run, a variation on the Homestead in Virginia, can be patronized only by the well-heeled.