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By (author) Botho Strauss
Translated by Sophie Wilkins
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Vintage Publishing, London, United Kingdom
Imprint: Chatto & Windus
Published: 31st Dec 1979
Dimensions: w 140mm h 200mm
Weight: 560g
ISBN-10: 0701124210
ISBN-13: 9780701124212
Barcode No: 9780701124212

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Kirkus US
Strauss' short, piecemeal, mysterious novel runs solely on a fuel of obsession. Richard Schroubeck, 31, is a bookseller suffering not only through a sweltering Berlin summer but from his abandonment by live-in girlfriend Hannah, who has left him for reasons he can't completely see. Richard stops going to work, shopping, changing his clothes; he watches depressingly large gobs of TV news and reacts to household plumbing mishaps with futile and over-large bangings and wrenchings and rippings: "showing off to myself." But mostly he writes, paragraphs and paragraphs that he fully intends to show one day to Hannah; his model is a writer who, he's heard, for years has been "copying the letters of his wife, who left him five or six years ago. . . reproducing her handwriting. . . the movement of her hands, her arm, her entire body, until in the end he had even appropriated the movements of her thoughts and feelings." But as much as Richard believes that his meticulously recorded anguish - "a conscientious and terrible protocol" - is Hannah-directed, he also knows better, knows that the daily, constant writing has become his true "devotion" - "best suited to relieving him of just enough of the burden, without causing him to give up or lose anything. . . ." The image is brilliant, as are most of the other apercus here; Richard's candor - and Strauss' metaphorical assent - becomes an example of the human betrayal of pain by work: one of art's essences. A chance encounter with another of Hannah's suitors, equally as poleaxed as Richard, and a finale in which Richard and Hannah meet - these are the only real narrative sequences here; but what Strauss lacks in novelistic weave he makes up by not being a faux-naif, as is often the case with his compatriot Handke. Out of rubbings and worryings - a haunting book that's also not a little harrowing. (Kirkus Reviews)