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Endless stream of thought
Xaver Bayer rebels against the full stop
A man is waiting at Brussels Airport for his flight to leave. Never mind the gate. Naturally he passes the waiting time by waiting, looking and above all thinking. Xaver Bayer, an author who has won many awards and is still young, makes use of a thinking ‘I’ as a subject so that, as the saying goes, one thing simply leads to another.
Waiting for the flight in Wenn Kinder Steine ins Wasser werfen (When Children Throw Stones into the Water) turns out to be an endless stream of thoughts about God and the world: the world as a sequence of associations. In the process the children of the title do not enter the protagonist’s thoughts until the end, a turning-point in the main character’s thinking, who subsequently sets off in the opposite direction with Bernhard felling trees. God, being, perception, reality: these are all topics dealt with in this unusually dense and lyrical story. What is both fascinating and alarming about it is the way in which the main character is tied to time: the first-person narrator spends no more than two hours at Brussels Airport, and one trembles at all the things someone can think, observe and analyse in this short time, at what he remembers and at the images he has in his head. Alarming to the extent that in daily encounters on the bus, at the baker’s or in the bank one precisely does not have or be able to imagine what the person one meets is thinking about. The wealth of associations which Xaver Bayer records in his hero make one dizzy. But perhaps precisely that is the literary strategy of this story: literature as the overflowing wishing-well of a truly dense representation of reality.
Bayer’s narration goes on and on, never reaching a full stop, which naturally means that the whole story is one single sentence, so one must not be too particular about about the rules of grammar. But who is when thinking? Wenn Kinder Steine ins Wasser werfen is from the linguistic point of view an extremely skilful attempt to investigate one’s own self – to the extent that it can be assumed that every human being has such a self. Love, God, the search for meaning: these are the real subjects dealt with, a weighty task to set someone who is simply waiting for a flight. Xaver Bayer has fulfilled it.
Abridged version of the review by Bernd Schuster
Full German text: http://www.literaturhaus.at/index.php?id=8835
[ book info ] Bayer, Xaver: Wenn Kinder Steine ins Wasser werfen.
(Book language: German)
Jung und Jung,
Translated from German
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