**spoiler alert** wow. i was very torn with wanting to sit there with a black pen and cross out everything that was superflous and added nothing to th...more**spoiler alert** wow. i was very torn with wanting to sit there with a black pen and cross out everything that was superflous and added nothing to the narrative because damn jelinek is wordy as fuq at times. i haven’t encountered paragraphs that dense in a long while. and then on the other hand it did help set up the atmosphere of individuals caught up in themselves and their own inner life, these long stretches of drawn-out metaphors and similes. they transformed and jumped from state to state, from thought to thought, longing to longing.
essentially it’s 180 pages of yearning and desires and lusts, 100 pages of acting upon that. actually acting, not just entertaining ideas. then suddenly it took a very sharp dive – no, i can’t pretend it was sudden, jelinek writes like doom is about to happen constantly, the overwhelming sense that destruction is rapidly approaching. it hangs in the air, waiting for the characters to inch closer.
okay! but the actual content then.
so erika and her mother probably have one of the worst mother-daughter relationships i have ever read and i was sat there flinching and also enjoying it. they are extremely cruel to each other and themselves, but the mother somehow excels in her ability to utterly dominate every step of erika’s life well into erika’s late thirties. the creepy co-dependence factor is high though, despite fighting and hurting each other and the mother’s ability to knock erika down flat, they still sleep in the same bed. and erika is so broken in the way she is restrained, both by mother and her own self, from acting on any impulses. she does actively hunt out opportunities to indulge in voyeurism and hurt strangers on the tram. she has all this bottled up violence and strange relationship with control…
it’s dark, let’s not beat around the bush with that.
and then jelinek does this clever thing of social commentary too!
walter klemmer: handsome, happy, athletic young man. intent on seducing erika.
she tries to control the relationship and him, but then she buckles and wants him to control her, begging him to do it. she lays herself raw, breaks rules, breaks a lifetime of ways she has lived just to try and see what she can get with him, hinging her hopes and desires…
and you know what this bastard does? he rejects her, then beats her and rapes her. erika’s own mother, having listened to the rape, actually goes on to agree with what klemmer says – that her daughter is too much of a shut-in, that she should go out more, etc, etc. and that right there is so fucking aggravating because of how symptomatic of our society it is. it’s all erika’s fault. the woman who has spent almost forty years obeying, being clean and prim and proper, being not-sexual and good, gets raped and the blame is on her.
b r a v o jelinek
like, i was shaking with rage but also adoring jelinek because she nailed it. she fucking nailed it. and there is no vindication for erika afterwards, only more pain, nothing set right, just humiliation and pain (but it’s just a page or two long so it was actually bearable to read – well, as bearable as jelinek is to read).
so end of it? it kind of dragged on and suffered from jelinek’s verbose ways BUT at the same time? the nobel prize committee said it: ”musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that, with extraordinary linguistic zeal, reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power.”(less)