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The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  3,466 ratings  ·  435 reviews
The first of Peter Handke's novels to be published in English, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a true modern classic that "portrays the breakdown of a murderer in ways that recall Camus's The Stranger" (Richard Locke, The New York Times). The self-destruction of a soccer goalie turned construction worker who wanders aimlessly around a stifling Austrian borde
Paperback, 133 pages
Published December 10th 2007 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 1970)
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Iamthesword "The Goalie's (or better: Goalkeeper's) Anxiety at the Penalty Kick" ist closer to the original German title "Die Angst der Tormanns beim Elfmeter" fo…more"The Goalie's (or better: Goalkeeper's) Anxiety at the Penalty Kick" ist closer to the original German title "Die Angst der Tormanns beim Elfmeter" for "Angst" can be both "fear" and "anxiety" depending on the context (here "anxiety" seems to fit better) and "beim" is "during" (or an equivalent).(less)

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The Reader's Anxiety At The Nobel Announcement!


Honestly, I don't even know where to start. The Swedish Academy announces about a month or so ago that they are trying to correct their former eurocentrism and male centrism - by choosing another male, white, European writer of questionable dignity and out-of-date ideas on national identity politics?

Is that supposed to be the change? I have better hopes of the female European that was simultaneously awarded the 2018 prize, but I can't really se
There are books that are both beyond parody and beyond criticism, and this is one of them.

In the case of parody, I considered writing one but realized that the results would look exactly like the book itself, which would serve little purpose other than to hold a mirror to it, when merely quoting extended passages from it (which I won't do) would give the review reader a taste of the style and content along with showing the inherent difficulty of parodying same.

The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
First 80 pages: hated every word.

(Steps outside and smokes a joint)

Last 50 pages: greatest book ever written.

Take from that what you will—
Jul 09, 2008 added it
I wanted to re-read this book as soon as I finished it. I loved the movement of the whole thing and how it sat in my mind. I couldn't put it into any kind of category or reduce it.
After some pacing and deliberation, I stole this book from the Notre Dame library; they wouldn't let me get a library card and I really wanted to read it. The security guard wasn't at his post. I avoided the exit sensor gates by going out through the entrance. You couldn't open the entrance doors from the inside, so I
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mary by: Mark
Shelves: 2013, austria, fiction
What a strange and unsettling book!

I have never heard of Handke before but was immediately struck by chords of Kafka and Hesse. The atmosphere of this story reeks with anxiety and a nervous, ominous tension that never lets up.

Early in the book the protagonist (view spoiler). He spends the remainder of the time wandering aimlessly, overwhelmed with weird compulsions and distorted observations, slowly but surely losing his grip on reality. This book is one long, dar
Steven Godin
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: austria, fiction
The reader's anxiety at trying to get through this!
Two-thirds of the way in I happily kicked it into touch.

Shouldn't even be mentioned in the same vein as Camus's The Stranger.
That was a masterpiece. This is not far from being a train wreck of a novel.

Won't put me off reading Handke again though, as it can't get as bad as this again surely?
Some of his other stuff has been pretty good, so there is still hope the next time I read him.
Proustitute (on hiatus)
This slim book seems to draw readymade comparisons to Camus's L'Étranger, which I think is a very poor way to approach Handke's novella. While both texts deal with a man in an existential crisis and while there are murders, the similarities end there. Camus is concerned with the dissolution of a specific kind of French masculine identity; Handke's subject matter here is analogous, but this is a text very rooted in Austrian anxieties in the late-1960s.

If anything, The Goalie... should draw compar
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Um, what did I just read? This was weird, like a mix of Kafka, and Hemingway. And Delillo, totally, just worse. No particular plot, straightforward writing, hmm... I don't know if I would give it 3 or 4 stars - I really expected more from Handke. Anyway, I will read something else from him, before I judge :) (my first Handke novel) Final rating: 3.5 stars. ...more
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Goalie is a manic noir, a Touch of Evil in the Austrian hinterland, it is breathless and yet sober—we follow a former footballer as he’s sacked from his construction job and begins a peripatetic towards meaning, though the layers fall away and language becomes so much dust. A curt wind arrives to scatter, motivation is just another accessory, the reptilian protagonist isn’t fleeing as much as refining. A local missing child reveals another fissure but the goalkeeper much like the reader can’t pa ...more
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While sitting in a café and reading this, the waitress asked me if this is a book about football. I quickly tried to find the least embarrassing answer: reading about football or reading about a man losing his grip on reality. I went for the lukewarm option and said that it's hard to explain in a few words.

I have a problem with this book. It's not enjoyable to read, it's not a topic I'm interested in. I don't even want to talk about what I'm reading there. I merely read it as it was on my shelf
Jerry Pogan
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I've read at least one book of all of the Nobel winners and many of them I've read most of the books they wrote but this is one writer that I will stick with just the one book. I'm completely unimpressed and if I didn't know better I would have thought it was written by a twelve year old. It is written in a very minimalist style with little variation and drones on in the same subdued monotone regardless of the situation, including descriptions of a murder and fights the protagonist was involved ...more
Czarny Pies
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Des gens biens entourés de copains litterairs.
Recommended to Czarny by: Les gens qui m'avaient promis une soiree a la brasserie apres.
Shelves: german-lit
Lire, c'est penible. Assister a une representation, c'est un veritable calvaire.

While I was at university in the mid-1970s I went to see a performance of this play at a small 50 seat theatre in the bohemian quarter of town. Such an intimate venue offers the possibility of a very powerful dramatic experience. The negative aspect of this is that it becomes impossible to walk out because the actor has made eye contact with you on several occasions. Honestly if I had to do it all over again, I would
A short, frantic novel about the rougher edges, The Goalie's Anxiety is appropriately named... not that there's much to do about football, except in a couple of critical scenes, but there is a lot of anxiety. A lot of comparisons are made to The Stranger. After all, there is the same sort of existential dread, predicated on a senseless murder, featuring a luckless loser, but a better comparison for me in tone would be Antonioni's Blow-Up. It also features a senseless murder, but takes place on t ...more
Dec 06, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. An intriguing, vivid, original, memorable novella about the week in the self destruction of Bloch, a soccer goalie turned construction worker. Bloch’s life has become absurd and pointless. I found the sparse, fractured prose helped in propelling this short story forward. Whilst not a totally satisfying or enjoyable read, I liked the originality in the storytelling.

The author, Peter Handke, an Austrian, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2019.
Ben Loory
Feb 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
i have to admit, when i started reading this, my first thought was: "oh god, this shit again???" because really, on the face of it, does the world really need yet another kill-somebody-go-crazy book? or even a go-crazy-kill-somebody book? didn't we have enough with the stranger and ten THOUSAND different noirs-- including every book jim thompson ever wrote?

and really, i felt pretty much the same at the end. storywise, every single jim thompson book is better than this, and every single jim thomp
Henry Martin
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I received this book as a gift, and, prior to reading it, I've never heard of Peter Handke or this work. This is to say that I did not know what to expect. While the cover is not particularly interesting, the strong title grabbed my attention. Also, the front cover blurb mentions Camus's The Stranger. I'm intrigued.

Personally, I did not find much in a way of similarity between this work and Camus's work. I did find a little Kafka, a little Hamsun, a little Leppin...but I was rather surprised by
Sidharth Vardhan
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 4-europe, list-1001, nobel
An expelled goalie murders a woman randomly, walks around anxiously observing random observations and... that is all about it. Camus' Stranger was a book in its own league and so I won't compare this to it. What is more, Camus' Stranger wasn't this dumb. In Sartre's Nausea too, the protagonist was a white middle-aged European man but that man too was struggling with intuitive observations. Clezio's 'The Interrogation' is yet another book and one that seems to most resemble this one most - of a n ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Slow and dark! I thought to finish this small book in a quick sitting, it made me to go with its pace.
John Hatley
An interesting book with a tricky, somewhat difficult-to-follow style. I may have to read it again with much more concentration to understand it.
Daranuța Cristina
I really tried to read it, but... it is just unreadable. It's boring and bland. No more Handke for me. ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Two very generous stars. This was nothing, practically zero literary merit of any kind...
William Adams
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
Cryptic is the word that best describes this novella. A man bumps around an Austrian village for 120 pages and nothing happens. He eats, drinks, smokes, reads newspapers, and then it ends. So what is the point?

The book's main achievement is to show a story that describes the details of life as lived, and no more. It avoids interpretation, theory, romance, philosophy, emotion, and literary style. It is just pure description. And yet this is not an exercise in "objectivism" where everything is an
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Contains spoils, spoilage, spoilers.

Well, this book deserves a second read. Or, rather, I deserve to allow myself a second read. But, until then:

The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a brisk novella, one that briskly breaks apart in a rather fractal-like fashion. The cookie, if you will, crumbles into self-similar little crumblettes, which, while varying in size and texture, involve similar fixations and interrogate similar concerns.

What does it mean to act in way x? If a man acts in wa
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Austrian writer Peter Handke’s The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick was first published in 1970. According to the blurb on the back of my 2007 reprint, it caused quite a stir in Europe and the United States at the time, because of its “innovative use of language and its searing portrait of a troubled man in an equally troubled society”.

It came to my attention after I read a rather wonderful interview with MJ Hyland in which she named it as one of her influences. I love Hyland’s work (you can
Pavel Nedelcu
An unconventional analysis of the human character and the constant quest for a social identity. The inner crisis of the Kafkian protagonist Bloch is not only describing an early case of schizophrenia, but is also related to a need to understand what his own place in a society in which he used to serve as a soccer goalkeeper has, in the meantime, become.
A radical, conscious choice is that of becoming a murderer; and this not for the mere pleasure of killing (or at least not physically), but as a
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
At times this felt irritating, with its obsessive flat narration of events, but the book grew on me more and more as it progressed over its very short length. Handke reads like a postmodern version of Hemingway and the novel has some echoes of Camus' The Stranger with its apparently senseless murder. It becomes really interesting as the protagonist, Bloch, starts to become more and more estranged from the world around him: he loses control over language, misinterprets gestures and can't count fr ...more
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Charlotte Albert
A deconstructionists wet dream. It's all about how we make meaning, cause and effect, the purpose of language, and all that shit that was big-doin's in the '70s and early '80s when this book was published. So it's all pretty experimental stuff. Which is why the story is of secondary importance...if that. 15 years ago when I was in grad school this book would have excited me, but now it just has a lame story. I could spend some time with it, trying to get to the bottom of Handke's point, but I ju ...more
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hoped this book would help me understand why soccer goalies kill people, but I am still at a loss. The concept intrigued me though, but unfortunatly the book did not.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Somewhere between Kargl's "Angst" and Camus "The Stranger" this story is easy to get through about a man who commits a murder and aimlessly wanders around an Austrian town. It has some moments especially towards the end that really reflect the state of mind of the killer. Wish Handke wasn't such a fascist sympathizing tool bag or it'd be a bit easier to endorse. ...more
Oct 12, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019
enjoyed this, unfortunately. he wasn't lying when he said his books were about nothing ...more
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Reading 1001: The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick by Peter Handke 3 21 Feb 22, 2019 02:01PM  

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Peter Handke is an Avant-garde Austrian novelist and playwright. His body of work has been awarded numerous literary prizes, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2019. He has also collaborated with German director Wim Wenders, writing the script for The Wrong Move and co-writing the screenplay for Wings of Desire.

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