Revolution on the Beach.
Vienna: Deuticke, 2017.
256 p.; Hardcover.; EUR (A) 20,60.
Summer 1972 somewhere in a small town in Austria. Mick is doing his own thing with his mates. They are all seventeen years old. And stirred by revolution. After all, the Vietnam war is at its peak, likewise the protests in the USA and Europe. The friends all go to grammar school. For Mick, whose real name is Ernst, there is a re-examination in French coming up after the holidays. But, instead of revising, this son of a worker prefers to jump on his bicycle and do something with his friends. They have highly political arguments, from time to time stealing a paperback from the local bookshop, mostly books by Adorno. Their heads are spinning. But their hearts too are burning. It is above all Mick who wants to fall in love and have sex at long last. Kurt Palm has him go about this in a way that is likeably clumsy. On a family holiday in Yugoslavia Mick gets to know a young Dutch woman, who takes his virginity. Of course he falls head over heels in love with her, but she leaves completely unexpectedly. At home again he learns that one of his friends, whose nickname is Candy and who is the best of them at school, has smashed the windows of the bank, to demonstrate political resistance to the 'system'. He is promptly expelled from school and sent by his parents to a mountain farm, Future uncertain. Then comes the terrible news that Candy has hanged himself.
It is the end of childhood and the beginning of something very imprecisely called life that Kurt Palm narrates. It is a novel written with a light touch but never lacking in concentration that has subtlety under the surface. Palm shows that he has a gift for writing dialogues. The conversations have been taken from reality, flowing smoothly and striking the right note.
The novel with its more than gently ironic title Strandbadrevolution (Revolution on the Beach) is not a dismal book, despite the losses and strokes of fate it is not even melancholy. On the contrary, it is often funny and is a thorough success.
Abridged version of the review by Alexander Kluy, 20 February 2017.
Englisch translation by Leigh H. Bailey.