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A Novel by Robert Allen

Napoleon’s Retreat

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Napoleon’s Retreat

A deep and serious look at the interlocked lives of a dozen characters, chiefly that of Robert Weary, a man born to wealth and power who nonetheless takes part in a hapless attempt on the life of American ex-president Richard Nixon, fatally deflecting his own life and that of his friends and family. Napoleon’s Retreat is not just the stories of these people and their times, however. It is a collage of narratives, combining in the end to show that our knowing of a thing cannot come without being bent out of all recognition by the act of knowing — and perhaps more importantly by the mythopoeic power of language itself.

Robert Weary narrates all the tales that make up Napoleon’s Retreat and is the Napoleon of the title, styling himself Robert Napoleon Weary, and sometimes Robert Napoleon Lajoie, a minor league baseball player of the fifties. Others have their stories. Albert Hess, ex-mercenary soldier, who dies in a Colorado creek during the assassination attempt, and whose head, still talking, continues to spin tales of the past while the cold water flows over him like time itself. There is Monica, sax-player in a band called Vern & the Minnows, who has become the object of Weary’s obsessive desire. A shadowy figure known as The Peacock Angel watches from behind a mirror, and the doomed Ellis Rancourt trails through the narrative with the demons nipping at his heels. A monster names Wittgenstein falls in love with Robert Weary, even though her creator, Etienne Bliss, had thought the default gender was male....

Critical Comment

“More a charge than a retreat...lively and unquestionably gifted prose. ”

— The Globe and Mail

“...a work of sustained, unrelenting, unmercifully protracted brilliance.”

— The Montreal Gazette

“...the story of the ultimate failure of artfulness ... before the bittersweet finitude of our merely human nature....”

— Prairie Fire

Author Robert Allen

Robert Allen Editor

Author Biography

British born and raised in England, Canada, and the United States, Robert Allen is the author of a number of books of poetry and fiction, including Magellan's Clouds, The Indigo Hotel, Wintergarden, The Hawryliw Process, Blues & Ballads, A June Night in the Late Cenozoic, and Napoleon's Retreat.

Robert Allen was the editor of Matrix and for many years served as the director of the Concordia creative writing program.

Napoleon’s Retreat, Robert Allen , 312 pp., 5 3/8 x 8, Novel, December, 1997

ISBN: 978-0-919688-35-3 (paper) . . . $19.95

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Also by the Author

The Moosehead Anthology VIII: The Matrix Interviews, ed. R.E.N. Allen & Angela Carr, 186 pp., 6 x 9, July 2001, Anthology — ISBN: 0-919688-86-1 (paper) ... $14.95

The Moosehead Anthology VI, ed. R.E.N. Allen & Grant Loewen, 74 pp., 6 x 9, January 1997, Fiction — ISBN: 0-919688-37-3 (paper) ... $13.95

Ricky Ricardo Suites, 85 pp., 6 x 8.5, November 2000, Poetry — ISBN: 0-919688-74-8 (paper) ... $13.95 — ISBN: 0-919688-76-4 (Hard Cover) ... $29.95

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