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Hanno Millesi: Der Charme der langen Wege.

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The Charm of the Long Road.
Vienna: Edition Atelier, 2021.
192 pages; Euro 20,-.
ISBN: 978-3-99065-057-8.

Hanno Millesi


Lambert is a retired Foley artist, someone whose craft is to imitate or even invent sounds for films. For example, crushing sheets of Styrofoam sound like a breaking spine. When used correctly, a flip-flop can sound like the propulsion of a spacecraft. Lambert’s world consists of noises: it is only real for him when he hears it – therefore, the loss of his hearing plunges him into an existential crisis. But it soon becomes apparent that Lambert’s perception of reality deviates from that of those around him; because he focuses on his auditory sense, things are simply "different" for him.
The novel is prefaced by the motto "But he heard something we did not hear," a standard quote from Don Quixote. Lambert is also a quixotic figure, a knight of sad countenance, dislocated in time, in hot pursuit of disappearing magic. As with Cervantes, this idea involves bitter comedy in Millesi’s work as well. Lambert and Don Quixote are people left over after the world has become disenchanted. If in Don Quixote the romance of chivalry and its ideals has lost its validity, but is kept alive by the protagonist in his own way, for Lambert it is the domain of producing manual sound effects and the associated power of imagination that lives on in him.
The technique of making sounds, in contrast to rational computerization, entails a world full of magic, surprise, and wonder, even if only for Lambert himself. Hanno Millesi creates an outsider’s portrait that views its subject with great sympathy and precise observations. He finds a language that does justice to its protagonist in its complexity and ramifications. Millesi provides readers access to a realm that functions "differently" than ours, in which baking a cake can sometimes turn out to be a suitable soundtrack for a collapsing bridge.

Abridged version of the review by Johanna Lenhart, 27 September 2021.
Translation by Ida Cerne.

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