Duras’ erotic prose poem set in postwar Saigon sheds sparkle in translation. While the French is languorous and sticky, the English is hydraulic (e.g. “ I began to recognize the inexpressible softness of his skin, of his member, apart from himself.”) Still, this stricken love story is suffused with Latin longing: rebellious French teenager, son-of-a-millionaire Chinese lover, the Mekong of high Indochina. For Duras, adolescent love, suspended in time, is a thrilling atrocity — “How can innocence be disgraced?” — that deserves public confession. Parting is such sweet death.