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The rather tired humour of the echoing syllables in the title is already an example of the madcap toing and froing and toing that characterizes Erwin Einzinger’s writing. Two little arrows heading in opposite directions, each drawn inside a small coloured ring, spread out over the dustjacket like a encircled Rorschach ink blot and turn these high-spirited energies into a visual image. As if this motive produced by the author signalled not just that one thing refers to another, but also that the book can be read from the beginning just as well as from the end – which is not so wrong after all. This is because it is not just a case of a story being told here by an eager-beaver narrator but rather of forms and formulas being played over, of the reader being simply catapulted from one thing to another, of cliffhangers being telescoped into stories within stories, of anecdotes alternating with digressions of the most varied kinds, almost as in the Arabian Nights.
‘Every country has its Samarkand and its Numantia,’ is how one is tempted to paraphrase this in a rather loose way – after all, here a large Central Asian city is put in harness with a tiny place in Europe, just like that. But unlike the regular surges of epic stride and song through the legendary world of Peter Handke’s story Die Morawische Nacht (The Moravan Night), on occasion Einziger has a great deal of crashing, bumping and banging about. As a slightly bizarre novel of travel the book also has something of the road movie about it, to the extent that the author’s characters serve as a vehicle to chart ‘a strange, peculiar world’, with an atmosphere that is occasionally reminiscent of David Lynch’s films. The white patches on the map of the earth which are mentioned in the text on the dustjacket, sometimes appear, when seen in this way, as colourful as ‘polka-dot rags’. And the telescope which is also placed in the blurb so that it is turned round to focus on the trivial matter of everyday life, at the same time holds out to one’s hand a pictorially evocative French verb for which there no equivalent in German, namely téléscoper, which lets one thing run into another, crash into something, has different things push into one another and indeed in such a way that there can be a right old crackle.
Abridged version of the review by Ulrike Matzer, 8 March 2011.
Full German text: http://www.literaturhaus.at/index.php?id=8742
[ book info ] Einzinger, Erwin: Von Dschalalabad nach Bad Schallerbach.
(Book language: German)
Jung und Jung,
Translated from German
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