Indigo by Clemens J. Setz

Indigo by Clemens J. Setz 

Austrian fiction 

Original title – Indigo

Translator – Ross Benjamin

Source – review copy

 

Just like watching the detectives.
Don’t get cute!”
It’s just like watching the detectives.
I get so angry when the teardrops start,
but he can’t be wounded ’cause he’s got no heart.
Watching the detectives.
It’s just like watching the detective

We not only watch the detectives but join them in this book ?

I have been vaguely aware of Clemens J Setz ,I had seen his name on a few German book prize list over the last few years , so when this book arrived from Serpents tail I was delighted to be able to try what seems to be one of the rising stars of German literature .Studied at Graz ,after university ,he went on and became a translator ,then a writer and poet ,his second novel the frequencies was on the German book prize shortlist (the German version of the booker prize ) ,he has also won Leipzig book fair prize .Indigo is his third novel and his first to be translated into English .This novel was also on the german book prize shortlist .A quick taster for German Lit month .

The wonderful inner peace , the first in a long while ,dissipated immediately when he stepped out of the building .Twenty-nine years on the planet and in all that time probably four hours altogether of perfect peace .During the years at Helianau it had been no more than three minutes ,Not counting sleep

Robert tatzel just as he is set free into the world ,free from Indigo .

Indigo ,is a book with two main characters A maths teacher named Clemens Setz and one of his former pupils Robert Tatzel .The title refers to a kid that in 2007 appears in children that affects any adults that get near them with severe headaches ,nausea and vertigo .Clemens is teaching at the time when the children in his class that catch this Indigo condition.Clemens tries to discover what has happened to his pupils ,but is meet with brick walls and the loss his jobs  .They are driven of in a strange type of mask .Then a number of years later one of these pupils Robert tatzel who with age has grown out of the Indigo condition is reading a paper when he discovers that his former teacher Clemen Setz had been on trial and acquitted for a brutal murder .

Acquitted in a trial for the violent death of a man from Romania .Kept his dogs in a dungeon for years . severe abuse .Death by slow flaying .Prime suspect Setz free as of today .The family of the victim , a small picture .people standing there sadly .In recent years mainly a science fiction novels ,a turn away from literature .Currently living as a freelance writer near .

captions from picture Robert finds about his old teacher .

Now that is the basic story ,but this book is a wonderful German take on Post modern fiction , that through these two stories we almost join these two men as they try to discover what has happen in both case ,why were the children taken ? what cause the Indigo ? Why did Clemens Setz end up in a trial for murder .We meet a mix of files, letters, book reviews , news  stories , clippings and pictures  as the two men try to discover fifteen years apart what happen to the other ,almost like a snake trying to eat its own tail it coils and coils ,making this one of those books that is hard to pin down .It’s a real journey through it ,I was reminded at the times  of  writers  like Pynchon or even Perec  both of whom like Setz here tried detective fiction of one sort or another in their time . There is an inventive hand in Setz writing with all the documents letters etc add a dimension that I haven’t seen done as well recently Strene did it first and Dos Passos did it in his books ,even BS Johnson in some ways but Setz for me made this feel like I was detective alongside them ,I ‘m sure each reader like me has their own take on what happened and why because we can all read into what we see from our own lives ,this make this unusual and unique book and new voice in German lit .

 

The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim

hundred brothers

The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim

US Fiction

Source – review Copy

Donald Antrim is a name that I’ve had on the very edge of my radar to read ,for a number of years .He is often mentioned as a post modernist writer,as I have really enjoyed the other writers from the post modernist Cannon I have read and am always keen to try new ones .I felt I would like  Antrim’s work .So when these two new reissues from Granta dropped through my door I was happy to finally get the chance to saviour his work and that is what I did saviour him .Donald Antrim is an American writer who lives in New York ,he published his first novel in 1993 this the hundred brothers was his second book .He contributes to the New Yorker and lives in New York.He was on the twenty best writers under forty list published in the New Yorker in 1999 a list that included people such as Saunders ,Foster Wallace,Diaz and Lahiri  to name a few  .

My brothers Rob ,Bob ,Tom,Paul ,Ralph ,Phil,Noah ,William,Nick,Dennis,Christopher,Frank ,Simon,Saul ,Jim,Henry…………………..(so on ) all born on the same day,the twenty-third of May ,though at different hours in separate years .

The strange brothers gather together .

So to the book The Hundred brothers is a story of a meeting of Hundred brothers ,well actually ninety-nine as one can’t make it .They have come together for annual meeting of the brothers  and to have a meal and do a yearly ritual .Doug is our guide to this hectic group of brothers  he seems one of the saner brothers .We get told via Doug who is who ,the blind brother ,,the depressed brother ,the recovering addict ,botanist and so on .This is a strange bunch ,as the night progress chaos and madness start to descend on them .The brothers almost represent a cross-section of america .We also see what happens when people are overshadowed by a domineering father ,The brothers all seem to have a bit of something missing that thing that controls people in everyday life have ,how will this night end will the be 99 brothers ?Whose is the dog that keeps running through the room ? how many Doug’s have there been ?

Other brothers converged in a circle ringing the fighters .No one butting in ,yet ;experience has proved that it is best to let physical disputes resolve themselves on the spot ,rather than interrupt and create additional frustrations and the lasting grudges that accompany smoldering tensions – unless the peril of injury .

A fight breaks out between the a pair of brothers .

 

The hundred brothers is one of those books it is hard to pigeon-hole ,like most of the other post modern books I ve read it seems to transcend usual fiction genres .After reading it I was struck by the brilliance of Antrim he writes novels that feel like Barthelme short  stories  that have been given a course of steroids to pump them up too a novel  .I felt this book would make a great episode of the Simpsons it has a mix of wit and darkness they capture so well sometimes .It did in fact  remind me a bit of the episode where Homer was given a magic hammock that meant he could clone himself and he did ending up with endless slight copies of himself .Which bring total chaos to Springfield when the pack of Homers gets on the loose in Springfield ,rather like the brothers on the lose in the big hall .The other thing I was reminded of is the film by Luis Bunuel the exterminating angel where a dinner party descends into chaos as the guest are trapped in a room .There is a great intro by Jonathan Frantzen where he picks out the wonderful line “I love my brothers and I hate their guts “.Very apt we can’t choose are families can we ?

Have you read his books ?

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