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The Appointment by Herta Müller
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The Appointment (1997)

by Herta Müller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (16)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Piratical (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (22)
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Everything happened in a twinkling, the time it takes for one person to assault another.

Müller's Nobel Prize speech is transcribed at the end of this edition, a bonus the cover did not hint at that other editions could learn from, and among other thought provoking paragraphs was her probing the susceptibility of engineers and the like to making homunculi out of their creations. I already knew a number of beautiful words having to do with lubricated hydraulic machine parts: DOVETAIL, GOOSENECK, ACORN NUTS, and EYEBOLTS, she says, and so I left off characterizing her plot structure as the shuttering swift sidings of looms and thought of maelstroms instead. Capturing the linear side of things is all very well, but we are no Arachne in our weaving and wiggling our way out of the unyielding desire of the eye.

You feel fine because you’ve forgotten what that means for other people.

The Wiki page for the author already rhapsodized on about Kafka, so I'll save us both some ethos and think instead on past and future. If you let it, the narrative will explain all that needs be expounded, letting even a novice in Romanian tinged literature such as myself into its endless bowels. When the final page is turned, you'll have the comfort of your narrator's closure, for you'll know exactly how she came to be here and where she has utmost need to go. Whether you accept the lines drawn by death and madness by that point is another matter entirely.

On the way I thought: How bizarre that something so beautiful could be up in the sky, with no law down here on earth forbidding people to look at it.

The matter of her being a woman may be a turnoff to some, for the cruelty aimed so casually and frequently at female bodies is the same regardless of political leanings, souring those feel good leavings that horror stories of Communism inevitably leave on the democratically inclined. It's not nearly as difficult as Morrison and Jelinek, but it is said, and unlike the others dwells on many a tale of daughters fucking fathers (note the order and implicated position) and other sundry tales of female lust, so maybe there is something to be said about that Communism business in conjunction with the patriarchy. Or not, but whether 'twas meaning or null, it was worth noting, for superstitious warding off harm before the next appointment share with a sought out sex an ultimate need for control.

First look left and then look right, son, to see if a car's coming. That's important when you're crossing a street but it's a dangerous way to think.

Hell hath no fury like a man offended. ( )
1 vote Korrick | Oct 23, 2014 |
Scott Esposito, editor of The Quarterly Conversation and proprietor of Conversational Reading, asked me what my top reads of 2013 were. Among others (which you can see here and most of which I reviewed here on Goodreads or elsewhere), I chose this amazing book.

For lack of a proper review, here's a brief summation of my thoughts on The Appointment:

"Müller’s unnamed narrator journeys on a tram to make an appointment set for ten o’clock sharp; this is not the first time that she has been summoned, and, in Ceausescu’s Romania, there is no telling when the interrogations will cease or to whom she can turn. On her way, the narrator recounts her life under communism, where intimacy and betrayal, sex and power, and truth and lies inform the individual’s relationship to state, self, and other." ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
[The Appointment] was one of the works taken into consideration when [[Herta Muller]] was given the Nobel Prize in 2009. Muller was born in Romania in 1953 and emigrated to Germany in 1987. Her work, including [The Appointment] deals with life in Romania under communist rule.

In many ways this book reminds me of other works of German literature in that there is very little (almost no) plot. The entire story takes place during a 90 minute tram ride the main character takes from her home to her appointment with a secret police officer for interrogation and consists of her mental wanderings through her recent life. The book is difficult to read because the life it described is numbingly difficult and dreary but also because the story moves so slowly and doesn't go much of any where. I think, though, that it is one of the book's strengths because it causes the reader to get more of a sense of the emotional state of the characters than a more vivid description would. In the end the main character concludes "The trick is not to go mad" and I could really understand that she would feel that way. ( )
  RebaRelishesReading | Sep 26, 2013 |
So far, so terrifying.
Update: I've decided not to finish this one. It's too slow for me and the subject matter is too depressing. Apologies to the Nobel committee. ( )
  mjennings26 | Apr 3, 2013 |
"The narrator however is not having a good time and the prose serves to heighten your fear for her because within those tight phrases is the story of a woman who is doing anything, anything she can to keep sane. "
read more:http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-appointment-herta-muller.html ( )
  mongoosenamedt | Dec 4, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
The narrator's isolation and the numbing way in which she walks through life while wondering, ''Does any of this really mean anything, or is it just there for you to wonder about,'' mean ''The Appointment'' is more a test of endurance than a pleasure. One could argue that this is precisely the point, given the duress and despair Müller seeks to capture, but duress in and of itself does not make a novel.
 

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Müller, Hertaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Löfdahl, KarinTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oliveira, Claire deTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boehm, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hengel, Ria vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hulse, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
First words
Ich bin bestellt.
I've been summoned. (English translation)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Original title: Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312420544, Paperback)

WINNER OF THE 2009 NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE

 
From the winner of the IMPAC Award, a fierce novel about a young Romanian woman's discovery of betrayal in the most intimate reaches of her life

"I've been summoned. Thursday, ten sharp." Thus begins one day in the life of a young clothing-factory worker during Ceaucescu's totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before; this time, she believes, will be worse. Her crime? Sewing notes into the linings of men's suits bound for Italy. "Marry me," the notes say, with her name and address. Anything to get out of the country.

As she rides the tram to her interrogation, her thoughts stray to her friend Lilli, shot trying to flee to Hungary, to her grandparents, deported after her first husband informed on them, to Major Albu, her interrogator, who begins each session with a wet kiss on her fingers, and to Paul, her lover, her one source of trust, despite his constant drunkenness. In her distraction, she misses her stop to find herself on an unfamiliar street. And what she discovers there makes her fear of the appointment pale by comparison.

Herta Müller pitilessly renders the humiliating terrors of a crushing regime. Bone-spare and intense, The Appointment confirms her standing as one of Europe's greatest writers.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:12 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"I've been summoned. Thursday, ten sharp." Thus begins one day in the life of a young clothing-factory worker during Ceaucescu's totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before; this time, she believes, will be worse. Her crime? Sewing notes into the linings of men's suits bound for Italy. "Marry me," the notes say, with her name and address. Anything to get out of the country. As she rides the tram to her interrogation, her thoughts stray to her friend Lilli, shot trying to flee to Hungary, to her grandparents, deported after her first husband informed on them, to Major Albu, her interrogator, who begins each session with a wet kiss on her fingers, and to Paul, her lover, her one source of trust, despite his constant drunkenness. In her distraction, she misses her stop to find herself on an unfamiliar street. And what she discovers there makes her fear of the appointment pale by comparison.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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