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Thursday, May 27, 2010

SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL



Obwohl er alles Altbekannte mit Ekel und Überdruß abgetan hat und sich keine Zukunft mehr vorstellen kann, nimmt Gregor Keuschnig, Pressereferent der österreichischen Botschaft in Paris, angesichts der unabsehbar drohenden Vereinzelung seine gewohnten Kontakte auf. Er sieht mit Erleichterung und Bedauern zu, wie seine Frau abreist, und ist berührt von dem Satz, den sie ihm auf einem Zettel hinterläßt: »Erwarte nicht von mir, daß ich dir den Sinn deines Lebens liefere.« Keuschnig begreift, daß es auch für sein Leben kein intaktes System mehr geben würde. In der »Stunde der wahren Empfindung« erkennt Keuschnig sich auf neue und befreite Weise identisch mit sich selbst, fähig zu authentischen Erfahrungen. Nachdem sein Kind von einem Spielplatz entführt worden ist und er in seinem Schrecken und seiner Ohnmacht beschließt, nicht mehr weiterzuleben, erlebt er plötzlich, wie seine »lange Gleichgültigkeit'« abgelöst wird von einer »süßen Teilnahme«.






















ELIZABETH BACHNER

FICTION

SHORT LETTER, LONG FAREWELL BY PETER HANDKE

There’s something about Wings of Desire. After seeing it in college, one of my friends joined the circus. Another picked up and moved to Berlin, where she had a series of painfully gorgeous and unavailable male roommates with silly German names. I fell in love with Peter Handke’s Biblical-sounding “Song of Childhood,”and started reading Austrian literature. The poem ran through my head for years, like Eliot’s “Prufrock” or Gillian Allnutt’s “Images of Revenge.” It ran through my head in German, even though I don’t speak any German. I could hear it better that way. I don’t pay attention to Handke’s politics. He’s a beautiful writer, spare but not simple, cinematic, more haunting than cruel.
Handke’s 1972 Short Letter, Long Farewell is a Great American Novel, so it’s fitting that it’s not American, not in English, not epic, and kind of more screenplay-like than novel-like. It’s the story of an unnamed Austrian man, just turning 30, who heads to America with all of his savings and does a bunch of American things, like stay in hotels and stare at military men in bars and go on a road trip with an old lover and watch TV movies and meet John Ford. He is fleeing (or maybe pursuing?) his murderous ex-wife, Judith. It won’t spoil the book to say that it ends with a showdown.
It won’t surprise Handke fans to learn that the entire book is about exactly what it is not about, about exactly what he has deliberately, almost pathologically, left out. This is how he manages to stay so spare. In Wings of Desire, Columbo is an American angel who has traded in his wings for the brief, conflicted glory of a human existence. In Short Letter, Long Farewell, America is a glossy movie set, a fantasy horizon to move into thoughtlessly. The dark shadows of Austria and grief are felt everywhere, and acknowledged nowhere. Quentin Crisp once wrote (weirdly, in an admiring review of Splash): “The voice of Europe is a cross between a scream of frustration and a yawn of despair.” There’s plenty of screaming and yawning in Short Letter, all of it silent.
Short Letter, like all good fictional travelogues, is the story of the failed attempt to escape into a dream, to cheat memory, and history, and death. Throughout the story, the narrator is reading the uber-GermanicGreen Heinrich, by Gottfried Keller, a masterpiece of autobiographical self-examination, self-fleeing, adventure, misadventure, and denial. And the narrator drifts between dreamy quiet and self-exploratory monologues. Somehow things happen, without it being clear how or why they’ve happened. “What I wanted,” he tells his lover Claire between New Baltimore and Pittsburgh:

"was not so much to make something out of nothing or change one thing into another as to enchant myself… Today I interpret that feeling not as a desire to vanish from the face of the earth, but as joyful anticipation of a future when I would cease to be the person I was at the moment. It’s very much the same now when every day I tell myself that I’m one more day older and it must show. It’s got so I really want the time to pass and make me older."
"And die," said Claire.
"I seldom think of my own death," I said.
This glossy new paperback edition of Short Letter starts with a wonderful introduction by Greil Marcus, who quotes a character in Wim Wenders’s Kings of the Road: “The Yanks have colonized our subconscious.” But Handke’s roadbook, his Green Henry goes to Hollywood, is more a story of Europe’s frustrated, despairing voice colonizing the vast, backlit American landscape and then riding off into a celluloid sunset.  
Short Letter, Long Farewell by Peter Handke
NYRB
ISBN: 1590173066
192 Pages



Short Letter, Long Farewell is one the most inventive and exhilarating of the great Peter Handke’s novels. Full of seedy noir atmospherics and boasting an air of generalized delirium, the book starts by introducing us to a nameless young German who has just arrived in America, where he hopes to get over the collapse of his marriage. No sooner has he arrived, however, than he discovers that his ex-wife is pursuing him. He flees, she follows, and soon the couple is running circles around each other across the length of America—from Philadelphia to St. Louis to the Arizona desert, and from Portland, Oregon, to L.A. Is it love or vengeance that they want from each other? Everything’s spectacularly unclear in a book that is travelogue, suspense story, domestic comedy, and Western showdown, with a totally unexpected Hollywood twist at the end. Above all, Short Letter, Long Farewell is a love letter to America, its landscapes and popular culture, the invitation and the threat of its newness and wildness and emptiness, with the promise of a new life—or the corpse of an old one—lying just around the corner.
QUOTES
The novel is full of vivid snapshots of American characters and scenes, and the idiosyncratic mixture of narrative, interior monologue, natural description and cultural themes and clichés is a brilliant concoction.
— Richard Locke, 
The New York Times Book Review
This is a postmodernism in its most exciting and challenging form, a work of literature that makes the redefinition of reality and of fiction a possibility.
— 
Choice
Handke’s self-portrait of the artist [leaves] us with doubts that can only be induced by the work of a totally serious major artist.
— Malcolm Bradbury, 
The New York Times Book Review
A leading literary figure in the first generation of Germans to grow up after the war…He is a man of real intellectual power and sometimes visionary insight. His fingers are never far from the pulse…
— 
The Washington Post









 of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/03/handke-revista-of-reviews.html [lead page]

http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/slow-home-coming-german-and-english.html
http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/essay-on-juke-box-daniel-gutmann-etc.html
http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/one-dark-night-i-left-my-silent-house.html
http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/left-handed-woman-scott-abbott-and-few.htm
lhttp://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/william-gass-review-ofmy-year-in-no.html
http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/long-piece-on-handkes-moravian-night.html


http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/goalies-anxiety-at-penalty-kick.html



CARTA BREVE PARA UN LARGO ADIOS

Autor: PETER HANDKE
Editorial: ALIANZA
Paginas: 178
ISBN: 8420644188



El vagabundo rumiante

EDUARDO CHAMORRO


Peter Handke paso en su dia por ser el nino prodigio de la modernidad en su vertiente austriaca, e incluso fue visto por algunos criticos estadounidenses como un modelo de modernidad. La reedicion de sus novelas aclarara hasta que punto era acertada esa percepcion o si habria que matizarla y colocar al encartado en el esfuerzo por aprovechar los pasos de Thomas Bernhard o en la voluntad de ser el Klaus Kinsky de la novela centroueropea. Handke tiene mucho de cinematografico. Es gran amigo de Win Wenders, por ejemplo. Y lo mejor de este libro es una conversacion con John Ford, hasta el punto de dar la impresion de que alguien le encargo a Handke una entrevista con el director de La diligencia, y el escritor vagabundeo por Estados Unidos hasta que cayo en la cuenta de que el gran hombre del cine residia en California.

+Carta breve para un largo adios+ es la cronica de ese viaje desde un punto de vista rumiante. La cronica o el diario de un viaje absurdo, resuelta o planteado como una novela. El protagonista de esa apariencia de novela no viaja, en realidad, hacia un destino o hacia John Ford. Lo que mas obviamente hace es huir de una esposa que le envia postales del revolver con el que piensa saltarle la tapa de los sesos, o remedos de la bomba con la que piensa reventarle la vida.

Todo lo que el libro nos cuenta de ese viajero sin brujula se convierte, voluntaria o involuntariamente, en el catalogo de las razones por las que su esposa deberia haberlo fulminado hace tiempo. Ella se habria ahorrado un largo viaje, y el lector, una novela. Aun cuando la novela sea un diario, y el lector, un voyuer, un intruso en la errancia de un pobre vagabundo que reconoce su idiotez, que llora bajo cualquier instancia, y que cuando recala en la cabana donde vive su hermano -un maderero- solo alcanza a ver como este se oculta tras un matorral para bajarse los pantalones y mover copiosamente el vientre. Una vision ante la que el viajero gira sobre sus talones y reanuda su viaje. Luego aparece Ford, diciendo cosas algo inverosimiles. 

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