Friday, 9 September 2011

Book review: Maybe This Time

By Alois Hotschnig
Translated by Tess Lewis
Published by Peirene Press

First published in German in 2006, Maybe This Time was published yesterday in English thanks to the efforts of translator Tess Lewis and enlightened publisher Peirene Press.

The author, Alois Hotschnig, is considered to be one the most important contemporary short story writers in the German language and his books have won several literary prizes. This little volume, which, like all other Peirene titles, promises to be “thought-provoking, well designed and short”, doesn’t fail to deliver.

To properly savour each short story, I set out to read only one each day rather than one after the other. I did well but didn’t always succeed because some of the short stories just made me want to see what else Hotschnig had in store. Which boundaries he would break next.

I normally get frustrated by short stories because I feel that – despite the clue being in their name – they end too soon, just as I’m getting involved and want to know more. This collection of short stories has nothing conventional about it. Not even frustrations! Here, Hotschnig doesn’t really develop his characters and doesn’t explain what is happening. Or why. This goes beyond frustration; it makes you think, it makes you question the things you’ve always assumed and, more often than not, it leaves you totally confused.

But it is a good kind of confusion. I finished the book about two weeks ago and I’m still carrying with me stories like Then a Door Opens and Swings Shut, The Beginning of Something and You Don’t Know Them, They’re Strangers, trying to make sense of them. My favourites are also still lingering – they’re those stories that sometimes I think I can start to comprItalicehend: The Same Silence, the Same Noise, Two Ways of Leaving, The Light in My Room and Morning, Noon and Night.

Not to forget Encounter and Maybe This Time, Maybe Now, which are vaguely reminiscent of respectively Kafka and Beckett.

Alois Hotschnig’s Maybe This Time is a feast of surreal situations that will challenge the way people see themselves and those who surround them. Highly recommended to both short story lovers and beginners!

2 comments:

Andrew Blackman said...

That's a nice idea, to read only one each day and really savour each one! I read them much more quickly, and as a result some of them blurred into each other. I'll try your approach with the next short story collection I read (or at least I'll try to - but I've been saying I'll eat more slowly for years, and still every time I see something on my plate I bolt it down as if it's my first meal for days!!).

parrish lantern said...

I enjoyed this & tried to make them last, but kept going one more, just one more, in my post I described Hotschnig as a bored & decadent god playing a malevolent game of sims