"Tender, sublimely economical"--Spin
"Unique and intelligent"—Maximumrocknroll
"Before explores memories, both self-created and real, of a woman the narrator knew for a short time, who later died unexpectedly. He seeks to find her in visions, lost words, lonely spaces. While giving the reader a keyhole view of life's underbelly, Graham manages to imbue the scene with a poignancy that is slowly hypnotic and lingers long after closing the book... Though there are certainly Tarantino-or even Wenders-like moments in the book, Graham has a visual style and writerly voice that are all his own: timely, urban, and powerful." — Booklist
If Truffaut or Godard or Ozu wrote novels instead of making films, Before is the book that might have resulted.
Francoise was “improbably lovely,” the type of character you see in movies. Of course, her life was a life, not a movie. But as the narrator, Barry (a writer who may or may not be the author), stunned by the news of her death, tells “her” story, he cannot find the reality of his friend in the dark, romantic film that flickers in his mind. As he searches for Francoise in a nightmare cityscape of desperate sex and casual violence, he finds only reflections of his own loss.
In haunting, cinematic prose, Before examines the impermanence of human connection and probes the arcane links between seemingly unrelated experiences.