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The Skin of Dreams

The Skin of Dreams

by Raymond Queneau, translated by Chris Clarke, afterword by Paul Fournel

Regular price $16.95
Regular price Sale price $16.95

The February 2024 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club

The Skin of Dreams is a novel of waking dreams. Even as he lives his life, Jacques L’Aumône, its hero, daydreams a hundred other possible lives. A few lines on a page, a chance encounter, a remark overheard in passing, any of these are enough to kick things into gear and send him off outside of himself to become a boxer, a general, a bishop, or a lord. He lives alongside his life with diligence and steadfastness; and the passage from real to dream is so natural for him that he no longer knows precisely which him he is. Eventually he becomes an actor in Hollywood, and the basis of countless dreams for others. This Jacques L’Aumône, like the characters who surround him, has the same sort of haunting and fluid consistency as someone that we might dream of in our beds at night. And reverie, here, is born through the tale’s humor, which is as gentle as it is cruel, as well as by way of a writing technique that is itself drawn from one of Queneau’s great loves, the cinema.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681377704
Pages: 208
Publication Date:


This breezy and witty episodic novel from Queneau (1903–1976), originally published in 1944 and newly translated by Clarke, chronicles the episodic adventures of a young dreamer....Clarke generally has a nimble way with Queneau’s wordplay and neologisms. This winning satire demonstrates the rewards of cultivating one’s imagination.
Publishers Weekly

In this fantasy of fantasies, an imaginative boy becomes, after a time, a successful movie star....The novel’s playfulness with language borrows from Joyce; its noir-isms and grand fantasies predict gangster rap. There is a refreshing lack of morality in the novel. Jacques’ fantasies are not condoned, and his selfishness in making some of them real is not condemned. Read it in one sitting and find yourself more open to your own daydreams.
Kirkus Reviews

Queneau was one of those writers who knew pretty much everything there was to know about literature, but he also loved word games, and the language of the streets.
—Nicholas Lezard

Rueil is the small town on the outskirts of Paris in which the novel begins and ends. Queneau has sketched out his plot to be symmetrical … the limited horizons of the suburbs are a blessing … what more could you want?” But for Jacques L’Aumône, our central character, it is the cinema — the source of his fantasies and the motos of his ambition — that makes staying in Rueil impossible.
—Dennis Duncan, London Review of Books

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