Thursday, 13 September 2018

Josef Winkler: When the Time Comes

... who even today venerates Hitler and who, by way of punishment, used to make his daughter Karin – not yet 20 – go alone to the cesspit with a long-handled ladle to gather faeces and throw them into the manure tanker with a rusty bucket, until bloody blisters formed on her hands.

"A deep chasm divides us. None of us can go to you and none of you can come to us."

Willibald, who had worked for decades in the Heraklith factory on the other bank of the Drava, was dead from long cancer. His hands in the air and his pants around his ankles, he stepped out of the bathroom and called [to his wife]: Hilde! Hilde! Help me! then fell over and died on the spot.

The two boys tied the two ends of rope behind their ears and jumped into the emptiness, weeping and embracing, a few meters from the armless Christ who had once been rescued from a stream bed by the priest and painter of prayer cards. ... With their tongues out, their sexes stiff, their semen-flecked pants dripping urine, Jonathan in pajamas and Leopold in his quicklime-splattered bricklayer's clothes, they hung in the barn of the parish house until they were found by Jonathan's sixteen-year-old cousin.

Leopold was buried in Jonathan's death mask.

Tomorrow morning or the day after, they will scrape it [candlewax] off with a kitchen knife and sweep it up with the leftover flowers strewn about, then there will be no more traces of a dead man in the house, the mourning house will smell no more of rotten flowers, burnt spruce twigs, and wax candles.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Pier Vittorio Aureli: Less is Enough

There is an increasing interest in more socially oriented ways of living such as co-housing or sharing domestic space between the compound of the family apartment. But what is seldom discussed is that this way of life requires some effort. To live together requires less individual freedom, although that maybe no bad thing. The question is whether such a way of life might only be developed out of economic necessity, or because it is only by sharing and coexisting that we can reclaim the true subjectivity that Marx beautifully described with the oxymoron ‘social individual’ – individuals who only become so among other individuals. Here, less means precisely the recalibration of a form of reciprocity that is no longer driven by possession but by sharing; the less we have in terms of possessions, the more we’ll be able to share. To say enough (instead of more) means to redefine what we really need in order to live a good life – that is, a life detached from the social ethos of property, from the anxiety of production and possession, and where less is just enough.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Amor Towles: A Gentleman in Moscow

What matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.

For his part, the Count had opted for the life of the purposefully unrushed. Not only was he disinclined to race toward some appointed hour - disdaining even to wear a watch - he took the greatest satisfaction when assuring a friend that a worldly matter could wait in favor of a leisurely lunch or stroll along the embankment. After all, did not wine improve with age? Was it not the passage of years that gave a piece of furniture its delightful patina? When all was said and done, the endeavors that most modern men saw as urgent (such as appointments with bankers and the catching of trains), probably could have waited, while those they deemed frivolous (such as cups of tea and friendly chats) had deserved their immediate attention.

Accurate review here.

Benjamin Myers: The Gallows Pole

Read in August 2018.

Yes my sleep it was diysturbed by the sound of the moore tryin to get into my room an the sound of the moore tryin to get into my bed and the moore tryin to get into my mind becors it can do that can the moore and no man can sleep in that state no Not unless thur in a coffing.

Each time he returned to town, to home, to lie in bed perfectly still beside his sleeping wife, his senses enlivened, William Deighton felt utterly exhausted, yet he was nevertheless imbued and infused with a sort of joyful drunkenness too, and increasingly a part of him was still out there, stalking the moor, a half-feral man whose very dreams were now scented by heather and lit by moonlight, crackling with the mute power of all things connected.

Above them a mosaic of crows fell to pieces.

He listened to the sound of the water and the way it sang over the smoothed rocks of flint and grit. The way it danced down through the woods like a child.

The sun rose then, for it had only skulked like a struck cat at the sight of the incoming storm, but now it yawned and stretched itself in layered lengths of light reaching crossways along the smallholdings of the Calder Valley.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Ann Quin: Berg

Read in June 2018.

A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father.

Just lying here for an hour since the sun had filtered through the snow that snail-trailed across the window. How silent the place is, as if the snow had penetrated the walls, sound-proofed the habitual early morning scurryings, the alarms. Once a huge snowball, made entirely by yourself, hiding behind the shrubbery, blistered fingers against your mouth, listening for Edith's steps; her Sunday-best hat knocked off, her flushed face as she took you inside, produced the leather strap, buckle-end for you, for naughty boys who never love their mother.

Rachel Cusk: Kudos

She had to admit this journalist was one of her trickier customers, and his interviews nearly always ended with the same argument, since he seemed to take such a long time to get round to asking a question and when he did, discovered that he himself had the best answer for it.

You can't tell your story to everybody, I said. Maybe you can only tell it to one person.

A saddening thought, she said, that when a group of women get together, far from advancing the cause of femininity, they end up pathologising it.