Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Chez Charlotte and Emily

Chez Charlotte and Emily

Chez Charlotte and Emily
by Jonathan Baumbach

1979. 212 pp.
Price: $19.75

1979. 212 pp.
Price: $18.95



Imagine a bookish man named Francis D., swimming at a public beach in Cape Cod, who drifts out beyond his depth. Imagine that he doesn't drown, that the tide carries him to a private cove where he is rescued by two mysterious young women named Charlotte and Emily. Imagine then that Francis leaves behind his former humdrum life-his formidable wife and teenage daughter-and embarks on a series of violent and erotic adventures, as dream-like as reels of film. Imagine at the same time that a man named Joshua Quartz is telling his silent wife, Genevieve, the story of Francis's adventures, that they have little other communication, that the story is a way of keeping contact between husband and wife alive. Imagine that at some point Genevieve tells her own story, within and without Joshua's account. Baumbach's characters make occasional connections, make love and war, in the disguises of metaphor. If the main action is dream-like or fantastic, the real world is always at the window looking in.

"...a wonderful balance of ease and authority, subtlety and surprise, wisdom and playfulness...the balance is almost magical." —Robert Coover

"A brilliant is playful and unpredictable, a delightful instructive piece of reel life." —Irving Maulin, Hollins Critic


All they talked about for weeks when they were alone was the weather. How little sun they had had that summer, how changeable it was, how disappointing this summer's weather as opposed to last year's, or the year before's. Otherwise when they were together, she read a book or the paper-how much time Genevieve could give to the most newsless of newspapers-and he would sit, book open on his lap, in a hard-backed chair on the other side of the room, dead to himself. Sometimes he would be the one reading-it was curious how rarely they did the same things at the same time-and she would sit, empty-handed, thinking of one thing or another, her large gray eyes closed or focused inward. She wondered (her wonderment kept to herself) if she would ever again have anything to say to him. Sometimes when he was there, when he was silent and there, she thought of the room as being empty. She thought of herself as alone in the room or alone in no place at all, though he was there in the room with her for all eyes to see.