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Herbert J. Wimmer: Tote im Text. Thriller – eine Irritation (Corpses in the Text. Thriller – A Vexation)

de    en    fr    span    cz

Vienna: Sonderzahl Verlag, 2015.
ISBN 978 3 85449 433 1.

Herbert J. Wimmer

Excerpt

(Not) A Thriller as a Language Game

Corpses in the Text. Thriller – A Vexation. Anyone who does not already know the author will be able to guess from the title that Herbert Wimmer's latest prose work is, as might be expected, not a detective novel at all. Rather, it is a linguistically reflective literary attempt to create a game with 'thriller' motifs which – while keeping all options open – persists with one essential element – that of vexation. The crime becomes the hook, as it were, that attracts the reader like a fish to other waters, which flow out into the ocean of language.
The violent crime described in the book also occurred in reality and was never solved: a spectacular double murder committed in Austria during the Austro-Fascist period in the 1930s. Already the second paragraph, printed with the loudness of capital letters, reports:

"BROTHER AND SISTER LIE IN THE GRASS. THE BISHOP AND THE ABBESS LIE DEAD IN THE GRASS OF THE MONASTERY GARDEN. THE BLOOD IS BLACK AS NIGHT. DAWN SLOWLY BREAKS. THE NOVICE IS SLEEPING IN HER CELL."
However, these lines are preceded by a passage which reveals a completely different scenario: namely, the beginning of the book. After the heading "it'll all work out" one reads: "someone says: be happy!"; there follows the clue that no-one should have to "decide" whether this voice can be attributed to a gender or not, whether it sounds foreign or familiar. Because the "sudden outburst of noise from a magnificently restored 1955 Chevy two-ten handyman station wagon drowns out any possible repetitions".
On the Contents page, both passages are placed together as the first of 167 sections of similar micro-chapters. In each of them a passage printed in lower case is followed by one in capitals. The former always stands for
"narrative reflection", while the latter reports (with the brevity of stage directions) the double murder and its consequences.
With the aid of the almost chronologically arranged passages that give an account of the double murder, a classical thriller develops – yet the lower-case “reflections” that interrupt it transport the reader to a wholly different level.
All in all, an intelligent, intellectually stimulating and entertaining text, which – though apparently full of diversions – leads its readers to what is essential, and does not withhold from them the fact that, in the final analysis, it is always a matter of our
existence, of our own life.

Review by Birgit Schwaner,
English
translation by Peter Waugh.
Original review:
http://www.literaturhaus.at/index.php?id=10822

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