Kleinzeit
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Kleinzeit

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  260 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Kleinzeit, Russell Hoban's second novel, is probably the funniest of his books. It's a stylized, completely unpredictable story about a man in search of reality, armed only with a Glockenspiel and a copy of Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War. The story opens as our hero, Kleinzeit, experiences a mysterious flash of pain in his hypotenuse. That morning he gets sacked from hi...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 2nd 2002 by Bloomsbury (first published October 17th 1974)
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Community Reviews

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MJ Nicholls
At last I have hobbled into my second Hoban some three years late. Zinging and stinging. Capital-O Original. On the surface level a piece of delirious absurdism where God, the Hospital, the Word, and pieces of yellow paper are allowed a voice in the narrative, but in the interstices a dark exploration of—what?—the psychology of illness (is that a thing?), fragmented mental states as a metaphor for—what?—those old shibboleths: postmodern corporatised living or the multiple painful births that mak...more
Fionnuala
A smalltime copywriter faces some big time challenges when he pens some advertising copy on a sheet of yellow paper in this super creative piece of multi-layered fiction. Characters include a mysterious red bearded tramp, every man's dream nurse, a hospital bed and Death. The Peloponnese wars and Orpheus and Eurydice also make an appearance.
Warning: don't read this novel if you've been experiencing any difficulties with the angle of your hypotenuse!
Rod
Let's say ★★★½. Enjoyable and funny, but I never felt that connected to it. Maybe a little too much absurdity-for-absurdity's-sake for my taste. This was Hoban's second novel, though, and he was still finding his voice as a writer. Maybe I'll dig it more on a re-read.
Dan
Jan 13, 2010 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dan by: Ivana
Shelves: novels
It would be interesting to know how a Lacanian psychoanalyst would interpret the fictional world in which this retelling of a classical myth is set, and in which signifiers are in disorder. The protagonist, for instance, learns that he has trouble with his hypotenuse when he experiences a pain traveling from A to B; in the hospital, he meets a patient who is suffering from a condition that worsens into hendiadys. Perhaps Hoban is suggesting that in a postmodern world of alienated labor and adver...more
Jude
It is my opinion, she said to God, that nobody is healthy.

Look at you, said God. Who could be healthier?

Oh, women, said Sister. I'm talking about men. One way or another they're all sick.

You really think so? said God. He rained a little harder.
What did I do wrong? How have I failed?

I can't exactly say what I mean, said Sister. It just sounds stupid. What I mean is, it isn't a matter of finding a well man, it's a matter of finding one who makes the right use of his sickness.
James
Oct 16, 2007 James rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for unique approaches to telling a story
Shelves: magic-realism
I'm a Russell Hoban bias for sure, but Kleinzeit is one of my favorites and one of the more accessible of his bizarre narratives. Here Hoban tells the tale of the protagonist Kleinzeit, a middle-aged going nowhere advertisement agent whose ideas are obsolete and whose health is dwindling into a sharp pain from A to B. Fired, Kleinzeit journeys to the Hospital, where, for the first time in his life he can be a hero. Kleinzeit finds himself and his purpose in the Sister who falls madly in love wit...more
Rachel Kowal
Well this was a surprise. Weird and wonderful, reminiscent of Nabokov. First morning reading this on the train, I was laughing so much that the little girl sitting in front of me said, "What's so funny?"
Adam Stevenson
The first of his books I have ever read. There was a moment when a character finds music lingering in the air and goes to it with his penny whistle to liberate it - that was when I realised this book was more than authorial tricks and actually had a genuinely interesting point of view to substantiate the oddness.
Molly
Funny, surreal and entertaining. I'll admit I flagged a little in the middle and I have this nagging feeling - as I always do with Hoban's books - that I'm missing out on some central point due to my lack of education in areas mythological and Latinate but this was nevertheless a good read.
David
Hoban is the passion of the mother of one of my daughter's friends. She thrust this one on us, and, after overcoming my habitual aversion to metafiction, I really ended up loving it. Both funny and weirdly moving, and I even liked the style by the end.
K.A. Laity
I am dog-earing so many pages... this is one of the most wonderful books about the struggles involved in the writing process but without whining. Hoban's RIDDLEY WALKER is one of my all time favourite books and this one is every bit a delight.
Jacquie
Moody, dreamy little book. Grows on you. Prose reminded me occasionally of Nausea
Vera
Amazing book. My first Russell Hoban book and a wonderful introduction. I have now got a serious case of "Boy I wish my brain worked like that too".
Christopher Lynnes
Wait...what??? This is the same author as Bread and Jam for Frances??? I think my head is going to explode.
Moni
Quirky, devastating and uplifting all at once.
brotagonist
Absurdist and amusing.
Alan
Dec 02, 2008 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
fun, strange...
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