'may and must, and may, and must, and may, and must': a thread for jenny erpenbeck's novel 'visitation'

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thought this book was so excellent. sorta perplexed that it went almost entirely unread in the u.s. - almost every google hit is for a uk newspaper/blog - but its wonderful & terrible in the sense of inspiring the same... has something in common philosophically/structurally w/ some recent literary horror although stylistically theres basically no comparison. maybe just the shared sense of vastness & lack of purpose/design & futility although theres not terror in insignificance but sorrow. this is something i liked about it the inexorable creep of time

i enjoyed the books style too - the minimalism the precision the repetition - but i thought all those stern details obfuscated rather than revealed v much but maybe im just missing the point

idk i liked this a lot, but am still sort of confused abt it too

-Θ--Θ- (Lamp), Friday, 28 January 2011 04:25 (ten years ago) link

so basically i'm assuming i should read anything you start a thread on, i hope that is okay

thomp, Friday, 28 January 2011 13:55 (ten years ago) link

two weeks pass...

i wld like someone to read it if only to explain to me why it works so well...

Kabutt (Lamp), Tuesday, 15 February 2011 18:39 (ten years ago) link

ive got in on my shelf....

just sayin, Tuesday, 15 February 2011 18:42 (ten years ago) link

!!!

yah honestly i have lines from it going thru my head like, everyday, it is amazing

Kabutt (Lamp), Tuesday, 15 February 2011 22:53 (ten years ago) link

The last thing I read before coming to ILX today was this (http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/ddr/erpenbj.htm)review. Obviously the UNIVERSE WANTS ME TO READ THIS BOOK!

the most cuddlesome bug that ever was borned (James Morrison), Tuesday, 15 February 2011 23:00 (ten years ago) link

do it james

i will get to it once i finish this alice munro

just sayin, Tuesday, 15 February 2011 23:27 (ten years ago) link

i've been looking out for it at my local bookstores (used) by no luck yet.

just1n3, Wednesday, 16 February 2011 03:39 (ten years ago) link

lamps book club

just sayin, Wednesday, 16 February 2011 07:31 (ten years ago) link

I've been reading it! I've had little time for books lately. Also ilx. Odd couple of weeks.

thomp, Wednesday, 16 February 2011 21:10 (ten years ago) link

Obv I will report back once I am more than two dozen pages in. lamp have you ever read Walter Abish?

thomp, Wednesday, 16 February 2011 21:11 (ten years ago) link

Haha, I was going to say something similar, but probably for different, more superficial reasons, like, "how German is it," really? We've got invading Russians, Nazis, East German communists confiscating property, Jew having their property sort of confiscated, post-wwii guilt, folk culture and rites, Bavarian landscapes, thatched roofs, solid German architecture (and those solid German doors).

Some burkean themes? The class and property stuff can't be accidental. Otherwise she wouldn't alternate sentences about the architects talking about beauty and art and the gardener who is working the land. She lays on thick the property porn. There's something there for anyone who's tended a garden, watched it grow, felt proud of it, but also something there for someone who's made a house into a home. This book seems very relevant to me because living in an environment like this is so out of my reach, and we live in an era where almost every piece of natural waterfront property has been developed or divided up into expensive parcels or is decidedly undevelopable. There are only so many people who get to enjoy these places, and the book takes you to a place and idealizes it to the max and then asks you how you'd feel if it were taken away, and how do you make a place into a home (manages to do this without getting sentimental), and makes you ask who deserves places such as these. At least that's what I thought about while reading it.

The four daughters fates are all unyielding for the durations of their lives. They don't have stages of life. They're either married or not, and the two sisters who don't marry have somewhat divergent consequences for not marrying: one of them becomes an old maid in a way that's acceptable to the community and maybe herself, and the other behaves crazily until she commits suicide. But it's their marrying or not marrying that defines them, and Klara seems to internalize this fatalism the most. It's like she's saying if she can't decide her company than she refuses to decide at all, like to do so would be to decide inauthentically. And back to the theme of property: the property she was supposed to inherit is sold off before she killls herself.

Took me awhile to get inside the tone of the book. Maybe fifteen pages or so.

Another of those architect / gardener contrasts is that the architect works the soil to bury his valuables just before he's ejected from East Germany (the gardener works the soil in the obvious way), and he thinks of those objects growing and fruiting like plants - the forks and spoons growing a bush that grows more forks and spoons, for instance. The architect profits from the use of his mind, which I guess Erpenbeck does too, but then the rationality he's organized in that mind, that let's him plan for the future with hope for stability - this rationality turns out not to be so rational - it doesn't match up with the chaos of the world as much as he thought. And this is consonant with that nonsense he and the other architect were discussing about art being the ability to see beauty and order it or whatever they said.

Only thirty pages in. I'll write more when I'm not on my phone and I find out more.

bamcquern, Wednesday, 16 February 2011 23:46 (ten years ago) link

A German thing I forgot: Baron Munchausen. Saw a movie tonight where a guy is tempted by gambling on payday and he pulls himself by the shirt as if he could drag himself away from the temptation.

Disagree with lamp about the details obfuscating. The way things are told is pretty opaque, but I think the effect is supposed to allow you to see behind it. Like when instead of describing Klara's funeral Erpenbeck describes typical funeral rites. I thinking you can get an idea of what Klara's funeral could be like, all the permutations of it, the irregularities, the observances and oversights and interruptions. This branching of paths seems appropriate in contrast with the seemingly fatalistic attitude she had toward life. I think you're supposed to be thinking about all the could bes when you read all the details. Whatever has come to me during the landscaping or architectural passages has seemed right so far, even if I drift off sometimes and wonder what this or that flower looks like.

bamcquern, Thursday, 17 February 2011 04:46 (ten years ago) link

Dunno what I meant by "I thinking." Edit as you wish in your head. Think my housemate is watching the best of Adam Sandler on her borrowed Netflix account with her stolen wifi.

bamcquern, Thursday, 17 February 2011 04:49 (ten years ago) link

six years pass...

Got a copy of this towards the end of last year and have only just started now. So far so good.

Curly Morlocks (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 20 January 2018 15:39 (three years ago) link


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