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[ book tip by Incentives ] The main character in Hanno Millesi’s new book Der Nachzügler (‘The Straggler’) is an avantgarde author. “I am an experimental writer. Society has thought up this slightly antiseptic-sounding description for people with such a perspective of things as me.” Since Millesi’s nameless first-person narrator cannot be numbered among the more successful of his trade, he is forced to take on part-time jobs and that is why he is working as a ‘semi-professional sleuth’ for a detective agency. The latest object in his sights, Mr X, an information scientist, begins, during the course of his investigations, to display ever more bizarre behaviour: he drinks, becomes increasingly isolated, ceases to go to work and finally has himself sectioned. During the long tedious periods of waiting, which naturally form part of his job, the hero’s thoughts revolve around his position as an avantgarde writer: “There is a certain controversy involved in mothballing the avantgarde, insofar as the avantgardist personifies the new per se, whereas as a person he belongs, in a certain sense, to the past.” That is to say, he is a straggler.
Millesi’s inventive, mischievous parable about being an artist is full of intertextual references: Mr X is the protagonist of Michel Houellebecq’s successful novel Extension du domaine de la lutte (Engl. ‘Whatever’). Furthermore, Millesi has padded out the reflections of his writer with the theses of Pierre Bourdieu’s literary-sociological classic The Rules of Art.
The result: a stimulating and entertaining study of the reality of avantgarde writing.
(Translated by Peter Waugh)
Brief review by Peter Landerl, November 2008
[ book info ] Millesi, Hanno: Der Nachzügler.
(Book language: Deutsch)
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