Seven Years by Peter Stamm
Translator – Michael Hofmann
Original title – Sieben Jahre
Source – Library
Well Peter Stamm is one of those writers that has been on the edge of my radar and wish list for a for a few years now and after reading this has jumped to writers I want to complete .So Peter Stamm studied various subjects as diverse as English ,business information (?) ,psychology and Psychopathology ,He had worked in a psychiatric ward as and intern after this .Before becoming a freelance Journalist and then on into writing in his early thirties .He has won number of prizes in Switzerland ,Seven years is his tenth novel and the seventh to be translated to English .
Meet Ivona ,said Ferdy .She’s from Poland .This is Rudiger ,and this -is Alexander .He was standing behind me ,I had to almost vertically look up at him .Have a seat said Ferdy .The women put her glass down on the table and next to it her tissues and her book ,which was a romance novel showing a man and a women on horseback .
Their first meeting and maybe a subtle hint at what is coming .
So Seven years is a spin on the old seven-year itch story ,a phrase that has been coined by Psychologist as the time a couple that has had a monogamous relationship is likely to stray and to have an affair .So the couple in this book are Alex and Sonia ,they are described as a sort of trendy hip middle-aged couple into the hip things and image they are both Architects ,on the hip edge of this Sonia loves the works of the Franco /Swiss architect and urbanist Le Corbusier .So we she her going her and there to see his buildings . So it is a shock when the third part of what becomes a love triangle in this book is Ivona she is a rather dull plain women from Poland that had come into Alex’s life a number of years before he started the affair with her then and we are being told how it happened .What develops is a very strange and almost awful relationship Alex like the fact that Ivona is the total opposite to his wife and when she tries to make her self more appeal he makes her stay the same ,she top him appears as an object a thing he has to use not often as a person .Whilst his wife is going on about a new house and this and that .This happened in the past and is told with a cold tone at times giving an insight into Alex as maybe an emotional devoid man.
I had known her body in all its details .The heavy Pendulous breasts ,the rolls of fat at her neck ,her naval ,the stray black hairs on her back ,and her many moles .I knew how she smelled and tasted .How her body responded to touch ,I knew it repertoire of familiar movements ,but when I saw Ivona sitting there ,I had to acknowledge that I din’t know the least thing about her , that she was a complete stranger to me .
Sonia was a conquered land in Alex’s eye and Ivona was a woman of mystery .
I was looking forward to this on a number of levels I had heard how easy Stamm is to read ,he is the book took me a day and a half to fly through but then kept me thinking about it for the next week or so which was the other thing I had heard was that Stamm is a writer that lies with you long after you have put the book down ,and yes he does .The other thing I really like is the fact it is a Hofmann translation I have always found his translation to be top drawer clean and unfussy style ,with real sense that it isn’t a translation .So Alex and Sonia what do I make of them they struck me as very much like a typical English couple in the age group and tastes something of the yes they’ve read the books , like the right films but at the heart of the couple is a real void all the things in the world can’t make up for the fact they are quite shallow and really uninteresting people at the heart of it I was reminded very much of the women from the film of Nick Hornbys High fidelity Charlie played by Catherine Zeta Jones ,who John Cusacks character describe her and her friends as being some one you like to be with but when you there with them you realise they are actually quite vacant people .Where as Ivona the Christian book seller is described as dull woman but the more the book goes on the more she leaps off the page .A real tale of love ,lose and marriage told with a subtle and careful tone by Stamm.
Have you read this book ?
Which Stamm would you suggest next for me ?