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Short Letter, Long Farewell

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  434 Ratings  ·  44 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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(showing 1-30 of 1,167)
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Nov 17, 2015 Tony rated it it was ok
Peter Handke can be glib with facts.*

"Is that all true?" he asked ...
"No," said Judith, "it all happened."

And he's prone to generalization. His Austrian narrator in this book is wandering across America, gathering and forming opinions:

So far, I thought, I had hardly met anyone in America who was immersed in anything. One look was enough; then you turned to something else. Anyone who stopped to look a little longer assumed the pose of a connoisseur.


"In America there are no paths, only road
Jeff Jackson
Feb 21, 2008 Jeff Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jan 18, 2016 Fahad rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
رسالة قصيرة للوداع الطويل

خدعتني النبذة وجعلتني أحاول اقتناء الكتاب، لحسن الحظ قررت قراءته الكترونياً قبل ذلك، وانتهى الأمر بي إلى التخلي عنه مع الصفحات الأولى.
Jacques le fataliste et son maître
Libro curioso: andavo avanti nella lettura in attesa di una rivelazione, rileggevo le frasi sospettando di avere perso un pezzo importante, cercando di capire se qualcosa di importante fosse successo o stesse accadendo.
Anche il protagonista sperimenta qualcosa di simile: «Il tempo passava così lentamente che guardai di nuovo l’orologio. Fui preso dal senso del tempo, noto fenomeno isterico. Anni prima avevo visto una donna grassa che faceva il bagno in mare, e ogni dieci minuti l’avevo riguarda
Mar 20, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 29, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it
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
Scott Miller
Jul 01, 2011 Scott Miller rated it really liked it
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
Apr 02, 2016 Gabe rated it really liked it
"Two seconds ago I knew what I wanted, but now I've lost it. I'm happy only when I know exactly what I want. Then I'm so happy I feel as if there were no teeth in my mouth."
Fatema Alammar
Apr 09, 2016 Fatema Alammar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
قصة "اغتراب" رجل تترك له زوجته رسالة قصيرة "أنا في نيويورك. أرجوك لا تبحث عني". قصة من النوع التي يصفها الراوي بقوله "لا أرغب في قراءة شيء سوى عن قصص أشخاصٍ فرادى". بأسلوب نثري بالغ الرشاقة، ومعالجات عميقة، وميل مفرط إلى التفسيرات، ومساحة للحلم والزمن الملتبس بين الحلم واليقظة، وتتبع دقيق لأحداث تبدو تافهة وعابرة، يشيّد بيتر هاندكه عالمه الروائي الذي يتركنا بإحساس طاغٍ أنه يسكت عمداً عن الأشياء الأكثر أهمية. في وصف الراوي لعلاقته الشائكة بزوجته يخبرنا مثلا "قمت ذات مرة بضربها في الظلام، بحثت عنه ...more
Nevena Kotarac
Sep 21, 2014 Nevena Kotarac rated it it was amazing
"U Njujorku sam. Molim te, ne traži me. Ne bi bilo dobro da me nađeš."

Sa ovim pismom počinje jedna duga i nerazmrsiva potraga, iscrpljujuće i sanjarsko putovanje sa kraja na kraj Amerike. Pismo je primio muškarac iz Austrije koji boravi u Americi. Napisala ga je Džudit, žena koju je nekada volio. On odlučuje da nazove hotel iz kojeg je pismo poslato i saznaje da je Džudit napustila hotel, ali da je u sobi zaboravila svoj fotoaparat. Tako on kreće na put, iz Providensa u Njujork, ne bi li uzeo D
Felix Purat
Sep 24, 2014 Felix Purat rated it really liked it
A distant cousin of Nabokov's infamous novel Lolita that can also find itself in the tradition of Kerouac, Short Letter Long Farewell is Austrian writer Peter Handke's version of the American road trip. It involves a runaway wife who threatens the husband/narrator with death, and an acceptance of the small irritating things that tire and disturb the narrator. Handke's character travels through an America that is more of a wondrous place than for Humbert Humbert, but is still nevertheless a littl ...more
Apr 09, 2016 Ben rated it liked it
To my surprise, Benedictine took little notice of nature; to her the artificial signs and objects of civilization had become nature. She was much more likely to ask questions about television antennas, the stripes on the pedestrian crosswalks, and police sirens than about forests and fields. The presence of traffic lights and electric signs seemed to soothe her and at the same time to make her more lively. She took letters and numbers for granted and felt no need to decipher them; they stood for ...more
Nov 29, 2010 Lee rated it liked it
Read as part of the mass-market-sized paperback novella collection called "Three" . . .
Oct 12, 2010 Cody rated it really liked it
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
Apr 13, 2015 Jeff rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Another book that doesn't quite live up to the synopsis on the back.

"air of generalized delirium": maybe a bit at the end
"inventive and exhilarating": eh
"totally unexpected Hollywood twist at the end": clank
"love letter to America": really?
"full of seedy noir atmospherics: Not really. Staying at a Holiday Inn in Indianapolis circa 1970 hardly qualifies as "seedy noir atmospherics"

Jan 12, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it
An interesting book with an interesting narrator. It is compromised by its references to pop culture in that they have not aged well. As I read it I kept thinking how much better it would read if the cultural references had been made more general. I lived through the time period it described and was about the same age as the narrator, but for someone who was not alive at that time many of the references and, certainly the significance of them, would be obscure, if not opaque.
Jun 11, 2013 Benjy rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2015 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sprachgewaltige Geschichte über Erinnerung, Zeit, Einsamkeit und Zweisamkeit. Der Protagonist kämpft mit der Wahrhaftigkeit seiner Idendität. Wundervoll, aber man fühlt sich nach der Lektüre einigermaßen ausgelöscht.
Jane Griffiths
Feb 15, 2015 Jane Griffiths rated it liked it
enigmatic, atmospheric, chilly. A road-trip story and a homage to America. Hmmm.
Apr 08, 2016 Heyduaa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
الإفراط في ذكر التفاصيل كان باعثاً للرتابة كما أن الحبكة شبه موجودة. بدت لي الرواية وكأنني أحضر فلماً في منتصفه وانقطع البث ولم أستطع معرفة النهاية.
Mark Broadhead
Aug 22, 2015 Mark Broadhead rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
Scattered thoughts, with moments of insight.
Jun 13, 2015 Michela rated it did not like it
Mi son fatta trarre in inganno dal bel titolo.
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.
Dec 30, 2007 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
May 18, 2010 Mimi rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 08, 2009 Tommy rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 10, 2009 Dylan rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 24, 2015 Howard rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 07, 2011 Douglas rated it it was ok
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.
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NYRB Classics: Short Letter, Long Farewell, by Peter Handke 1 7 Oct 30, 2013 05:59PM  
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Avant-garde Austrian novelist and playwright. His body of work has been awarded numerous literary prizes.
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