Short Letter, Long Farewell
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Short Letter, Long Farewell

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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  276 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Short Letter, Long Farewell is one the most inventive and exhilarating of the great Peter Handke’s novels. Full of seedy noir atmospherics and boasting an air of generalized delirium, the book starts by introducing us to a nameless young German who has just arrived in America, where he hopes to get over the collapse of his marriage. No sooner has he arrived, however, than...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by NYRB Classics (first published 1972)
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Jeff Jackson
Feb 21, 2008 Jeff Jackson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: John Ford fans
Early novella from Peter Handke - the German enfant terrible who had a great run in the 1970s similar to fellow countrymen Herzog, Fassbinder, and his pal Wim Wenders. Partly European-in-existential-crisis story (eh), but it's also equally a road trip, love story, and revenge narrative with a handful of unsettling Hitchcockian elements. It's like "Goalie's Anxiety" with a more ruminative first person narrator and more genre trappings, although they're ultimately less important.

The book is deepl...more
Ian
Peter Handke's novel Short Letter Long Farewell chronicles a journey through America's heartland. The story opens in Providence, where the narrator, a young man of German origin who remains unnamed throughout the book, checks into a hotel to find that his wife Judith has left a letter warning him not to go looking for her in New York. What ensues is a quest of sorts--in which the narrator and his wife pursue and evade each other across an American landscape that is anything but idealized--with s...more
Katie
I liked this book a lot. Especially for how the heartfelt observations, from the slightly unbalanced narrator, quickly established a bond. I felt the intimacy with which he ruminated over people and situations: "When [the 'lovers'] spoke of people who had come to see them, it was usually in reference to the damage they had done: one had leaned against the wall and left the imprint of his heel, another had torn the label off a towel, a third had left a fingerprint on a painting that was not yet d...more
Lee
Read as part of the mass-market-sized paperback novella collection called "Three" . . .
Cody
A sort of compact bildungsroman for a rather neurotic quarter-life crisis, Short Letter, Long Farewell is, on the surface, a quest: a road trip West across America—with nods toward noir, John Ford, and American history as a whole—in hopes of personal peace and freedom. It’s a journey wherein the nameless, young Austrian narrator attempts to somehow reconcile the contradictions and conflicting themes that have consumed his life: isolation/association; dreams/reality; past/present/future; anger/ha...more
Scott Miller
This is the third Handke book I've read & the more familiar I get with him the more I enjoy his books. I could say what this book is "about" but for me his books are really all about his writing. If you're unwilling to submit to his dream-like scenarios & disorienting observations, you're sunk. But once I got used to his pace & succumbed to the writing, I came to look forward to living in his world. It definitely helps if you have a decent stretch of time to read - it seems like a wa...more
Benjy
Fun, odd little book. It's a delirious spaceman version of Democracy in America, an inverted noir mystery, a solipsistic road trip story not unlike Ross McElwee's Sherman's March.

At times hysterically funny, at other times nearly off-putting in its narrative feints. Ultimately, the ideas and the actions aren't nearly as enjoyable as the narrator's descriptions of things and people and what all this says about him. There are moments when everything comes together into a page or two of some of the...more
Stephan
I picked up as many Handke's books as I could get ahold of one afternoon. But it was on a whim. I was trying to find "A Sorrow Beyond Dreams". I keep giving him a try, believing that each book will be what I expect "Sorrow" to be.

In this book, nothing seems to stick. I mean I'm not left with any feeling for the events that could have happened or did. It read quick and nothing seems different for it. Sometimes he lets out terrific insight...especially when his characters take walks.
Martin
interessanter blick eines jungen mitteleuropäers auf die usa, erscheint mir ganz typisch für die entstehungszeit - die frühen 1970er jahre - die der roman sodann auch nicht verleugnen könnte, selbst wenn er es wollte. heute würde das deutlich anders aussehen. das amerikabild des protagonisten ist stark vom kino geprägt, der roman endet dann auch mit einem besuch der hauptfigur bei john ford.
Jason
Even more so than The Goalie's Anxiety..., I like the way it sits in my mind--magical isn't the right word, maybe mythic. It won't hold to any easy understanding or shape. And again I loved how it moved through to its great ending.
It was fun to see Tucson in there. This is my favorite of his.
Mimi
A short, wonderful book. A very introspective narrator wanders across America in the 70's and eventually we realize he is being stalked by his revengeful wife. Nothing but wonderful narrative and insight happens for pages, followed by short sudden revelations.
Tommy
Loved this book very much although the ending was very abrupt and didn't seem to fit with the rest of the book. The writing style is very interesting and would have been a five star book if the ending had been a little better thought out and put together.
Dylan
If you are a person who is flux--especially with an estranged lover--pick this up for a quick read. It is simple, but it shines a much needed light on who we are and how we react to romantic emotion, or the necessary misunderstandings associated with it.
Howard
Experimental but not hard to get into. Seems insubstantial yet effective. From 72, a kind of road trip of an Austrian in the US. Nicely unpredictable and with the odd section that leaves you speechless.
Douglas
The transformation of a journey from one of pursuit to one of escape intrigued me. I liked experiencing the introspection of the main character but ultimately found the book disappointing.
Philip Bardach
Not particularly captivating overall as a novel, but remarkably written/translated, and has some of the best use of various Americana I've come across in fiction.
Matt
Positive I would not have liked this book as much if I'd read the introduction beforehand, where I learned Peter Handke's SHOCKING SERBIAN SECRET.
Lyra
Mar 16, 2010 Lyra added it
Shelves: abandoned
While well-written, I just wasn't in the mood for the self-absorbed monologue of a tortured young man. I'll try Handke again some day.
Melanie
The stream-of-consciousness simultaneously appealed to me and made me feel nauseous.
Sharon
Another book of which I have no recollection. Read for my last German class.
Andrew
Wasn't blown away, but am sufficiently interested to read another of his books.
Merilee
May 19, 2010 Merilee marked it as to-read
Recommended to Merilee by: Mimi
recommended by Mimi (I can't find the correct recommended by slot..."
Helen
mysterious and very weird. I think I need to read it again
Sirpa Grierson
Contains some of the most stunning prose. A love story.
Nathan
i was all the way inside this.
Sascha Bohn
Required Reading
Awful
Just Awful
Jessica
May 31, 2009 Jessica marked it as to-read
I've not read it yet.
Vincent
Disorienting. Need to re-read
Oren Lupo
Oren Lupo marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2014
Andreas
Andreas marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2014
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NYRB Classics: Short Letter, Long Farewell, by Peter Handke 1 4 Oct 30, 2013 05:59PM  
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Avant-garde Austrian novelist and playwright.
More about Peter Handke...
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