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Von den Himmeln: Triptychon by Gabriele…

Von den Himmeln: Triptychon

by Gabriele Petricek

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Recently added byRuth_Martin, jamie_lee

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This is billed as three interlinked novellas, though as the book itself is under 200 pages, 'short stories' might be more accurate. All are related to art and the female form, and in the final story the protagonists of all three are revealed to be connected by more than common themes. The book as a whole is characterised by linguistic innovation, with verbs used in surprising ways and nouns transformed into verbs, creating a poetic effect. The storytelling is delicate and precise, and benefits from a second reading once the connections between the protagonists have been discovered. There is also a very Austrian flavour to the whole, with landscapes straight from Robert Musil (the hospital for the criminally insane at the top of a bleak mountain in the first story) and Wedekind (the woods and their seasons in the second). This is definitely Literature with a capital L, and difficult but rewarding reading. The rewards are not immediate however: until the final panel of this triptych, the stories appear unconnected, and there is nothing to spur the reader on. Just as we are becoming acquainted with one character, their narrative ends and we have to move on to the next, which, combined with the difficulty of the language, makes reading feel like very hard work for the first two thirds of the book. There is a very good analysis of plot and themes in German here: http://www.literaturhaus.at/buch/buch/rez/Petricek/ which I won't repeat. I'd say this was a possibility for translation - brevity and literary merit are certainly in its favour - but it didn't excite me as much as I'd hoped. It also seems to have attracted little mention by reviewers outside Austria, which is telling. If anyone wants my copy of this, please let me know!
1 vote Ruth_Martin | Mar 15, 2010 |
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