French author Emmanuel Bove wrote novels and short stories that combined the psychological insight of Fyodor Dostoevsky with Edgar Allan Poe’s penchant for the macabre. His fiction shed a light on young men dangling precariously above disaster, men whose neurotic impulses frequently led to their ruin. Born in 1898, Bove’s own life proved as strange and fortuitous as that of his downtrodden characters. The author spent many of his earliest years living in abject poverty until his father’s second marriage introduced him to a world of wealth and privilege. The outbreak of World War I once again dashed the family fortune but saw the beginnings of Bove’s writerly aspirations. Even as his personal life continued to see its ups and downs, Bove ultimately found acclaim in the literary world.
Bove’s success was due in part to the admiration of famous writers such as Colette (who helped Bove’s first novel secure publication) and Samuel Beckett. Beckett in particular praised Bove for his ability to include only the most “essential detail” in his sparse prose. Bove excelled at emphasizing a sense of the unreal, such as in the story “Night Crime,” where a poverty-stricken man contemplating suicide finds: “Soon it seemed to him that the floor was slipping away beneath his feet and that his legs were swinging in the void, like those of a child on a chair.”