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Ta vägen by Peter Stamm
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Ta vägen (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Peter Stamm (Author)

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1399197,692 (3.66)22
Happily married with two children and a comfortable home in a Swiss town, Thomas and Astrid enjoy a glass of wine in their garden on a night like any other. Called back to the house by their son's cries, Astrid goes inside, expecting her husband to join her in a bit. But Thomas gets up and, after a brief moment of hesitation, opens the gate and walks out. No longer bound by the ties of his everyday life--family, friends, work--Thomas begins a winding trek across the countryside, exposed as never before to the Alpine winter. At home, Astrid wonders where he's gone, when he'll come back, whether he's still alive. Following Thomas and Astrid on their separate paths, To the Back of Beyond becomes ultimately a meditation on the limits of freedom and on the craving to be wanted.… (more)
Member:hen_thor
Title:Ta vägen
Authors:Peter Stamm (Author)
Info:Skivarp : Thorň & Lindskog, 2016
Collections:Your library
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To the Back of Beyond by Peter Stamm (2016)

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» See also 22 mentions

English (6)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
To the Back of Beyond is the first novel by author Peter Stamm that I have read, but hopefully it won’t be the last. This is an unusual story that can affect the reader in many different ways as it slowly draws you into the story of a seemingly happily married man, who one evening while out in the yard, just up and walks away.

He walks across Switzerland, moving mostly at night to avoid being recognized, sleeping in the forest or in abandoned huts, scavenging as he moves along. And what of his wife and the two children he has left behind? The book alternates between Thomas, the husband and his wanderings and Astrid, the wife, and how she copes with his disappearance. Walking away from one’s obligations is interesting, but at the same time to abandon one’s family seems unnecessarily cruel so I found it difficult to be too sympathetic towards Thomas. At the same time, I found Astrid’s reluctance to accept his absence, her flimsy excuses to both herself and to others hard to understand. I wanted more, I wanted to understand the character’s motivations but the author kept us at a distance. His measured, cool prose gave us plenty of detail but nothing that truly satisfied my curiosity.

I suspect the author deliberately left his character’s motivations unfocused allowing the readers to ponder upon a variety of questions, is our current life the one we want, are our routines meant to bring comfort or to chain us down, can one ever really know another person? To the Back of Beyond is a perplexing, strange yet fascinating story that I enjoyed but I suspect there could be many readers who would simply want to toss this book against a wall. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jan 24, 2022 |
A well-written but ultimately unsatisfying book. Stamm's prose is as cold and crisp as his Alpine setting, but the story fails to achieve anything. It is marketed somewhat as a psychological thriller, but this is far from the mark: there is no pace and no resolution, and the conscious decision to provide no motivation whatsoever for Thomas' decision to leave his family is a near-fatal mistake.

As for viewing it as literature, the theme is never engaged with enough – though there does indeed appear to be a theme, something like nihilistic drift, the ennui of family life and how, ultimately, we are all replaceable in our relationships. But Stamm does not present this theme, does not explore it; instead, it is seeded deep and the reader has to work, work, work to dig it out. Even then, the ending reflects it poorly. There seems to be a trend in contemporary fiction where books are crafted solely for book-clubs to analyse their themes and endings and stylings. The assumption appears to be that writers are there to churn out word-Sudoku and brainteasers for select groups of people, rather than using their talents to dig out a theme themselves and deliver a piece of art that speaks to many. Only a few authors display the skill and élan that earns them the right to make those analytical demands of their readers, and on the basis of the capable but ordinary To the Back of Beyond, Stamm is not one of them. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Feb 9, 2019 |
A family returns from a vacation to their home in Switzerland, and after putting their kids to bed, the father and husband Thomas simply walks away from the house leaving his wife Astrid and two children behind. The short novel alternates with scenes of Thomas hiking across the mountains and Astrid trying to continue her life and waiting for his return. This is not the first book I've read about a man leaving his family behind which is apparently some male fantasy I don't share. This is a well-written book, but not one I can really review because it depresses and infuriates me so much. ( )
  Othemts | Dec 24, 2018 |
This short novel describes the lives of a married Swiss couple after the husband walks away from the home one evening. As days and weeks go by, he wanders around the country on foot while she copes with her children, family and police and tries to decide whether or not to pursue her husband or wait for him to return. Not much more of the very understated plot can be said without giving it away. The book has a philosophical feel about it and in general left me feeling uninvolved. I couldn't relate to any of the characters and found many of their actions strange. The wife, who doesn't even realize the husband is missing for a day or so, assumes her husband has just walked away for a while (maybe it's an American thing, but how many wives in a loving, settled marriage would just assume this and wait for a few days before contacting the police?) The husband seems to have no goal in mind and is just, well, wandering. I can sort of imagine someone just "walking away" (who hasn't dreamed of doing just that once or twice?). But here the husband just wanders aimlessly and the wife goes through life somewhat aimlessly, and, well, there's no passion. So, not my cup of tea. ( )
1 vote auntmarge64 | May 5, 2018 |
A man suddenly decides to leave his wife and two children, and starts walking. This is an interesting idea, but I think it was either not really developed as far as it could have been - or else I wasn't able to really understand the points the author was making. In either case, the books left me slightly dissatisfied. I heard the author interviewed on the BBC's "Books and Authors" podcast, and I liked what he said, but I think I should go back and listen again to see if I can better come to grips with this story. As things are now, I feel the remaining family weren't really troubled enough by the father's mysterious disappearance, and also the father himself didn't seem to think enough about what he had done. On the other hand, what this story did capture was the ambivalence felt by everyone involved. . . the sense that maybe we are all fairly dispensable, even within our own family? ( )
  oldblack | Feb 9, 2018 |
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Happily married with two children and a comfortable home in a Swiss town, Thomas and Astrid enjoy a glass of wine in their garden on a night like any other. Called back to the house by their son's cries, Astrid goes inside, expecting her husband to join her in a bit. But Thomas gets up and, after a brief moment of hesitation, opens the gate and walks out. No longer bound by the ties of his everyday life--family, friends, work--Thomas begins a winding trek across the countryside, exposed as never before to the Alpine winter. At home, Astrid wonders where he's gone, when he'll come back, whether he's still alive. Following Thomas and Astrid on their separate paths, To the Back of Beyond becomes ultimately a meditation on the limits of freedom and on the craving to be wanted.

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