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Xaver Bayer: Geschichten mit Marianne.

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Xaver Bayer:
Stories with Marianne.
Short Stories.
Jung und Jung, 2020.

Xaver Bayer


What can we expect from a book where the protagonist is shot in the very first chapter? More shots? Yes. A flashback? Not quite. Nightmares? Perhaps. Further encounters with the main character? Definitely. She won’t let herself be beaten that easily. So much can happen. But that’s no reason to disappear from the scene. Neither for Marianne nor for the first-person narrator.

In Xaver Bayer’s Stories with Marianne, every chapter is a new beginning. In the twenty sequences, the two main characters – Marianne and the narrator – run through a series of experiments. They are in turn absurd, frightening or oppressive, intermittently Kafkaesque, bizarre, funny, surprising or a combination of all of the above. Only one thing is certain: (almost) nothing can be trusted. But that doesn’t matter. The stories, unswervingly, follow their own inner logic, and dispense with the laws of nature.

Soberly and precisely, Xaver Bayer lets his first-person narrator report on his experiences with Marianne. One day, they spontaneously hide in the storage room of a museum. On another occasion, they fight for survival in a "Perchtenlauf" (Drive of the Devils). They hunt for bargains at a flea market and then enjoy destroying the treasures and, another time, they exchange views on the pros and cons of suicide methods while at a swingers’ club. It is the jarring, the friction, that holds the tales together.
Just as in dreams, there is no mercy, but also no final "game over." Virtual reality. Like in a computer game, each round is followed by a restart.

In Stories with Marianne, Xaver Bayer plays with our imagination as well as with genres. These stories are to be read as closed narratives, but also as chapters of a novel. They are the stuff of our nightmares. What’s astonishing is how good it feels to fall into a new dream, again and again…

Short version of the review by Sabine Dengscherz, 28 February 2020.
Translation by Ida Cerne

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