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You Should Have Left

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  2,649 ratings  ·  473 reviews
On retreat in the wintry Alps with his family, a writer is optimistic about completing the sequel to his breakthrough film. Nothing to disturb him except the wind whispering around their glassy house. The perfect place to focus.

Intruding on that peace of mind, the demands of his four-year-old daughter splinter open long-simmering arguments with his wife. I love her, he
Kindle Edition, 128 pages
Published June 15th 2017 by riverrun (first published October 21st 2016)
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Andrew Watson It reminded me more of House of Leaves. But House of Leaves has footnotes longer than whole sections of this book...
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In the form of a diary, You Should Have Left is a screenwriter's account of a family holiday that's also supposed to function as a creative retreat. Having achieved commercial success by (selling out and) writing a lightweight comedy-drama called Besties, he's under pressure to come up with a sequel. His daughter Esther has just turned four, prompting our narrator to hope he will finally be able to have a little peace and quiet, as well as some conversations with his wife Susanna that aren't ...more
mark monday
Spaces outside of and inside of spaces. Old spaces overlaid onto new spaces overlaid onto old spaces. Spaces to trap you. What's larger on the inside than it is on the outside? An ancient tower, a mansion of ill repute... an evil Tardis!

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I love the angle Kehlmann took with this novella.

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Wonderfully creepy. Carefully written. The meta worked: not tired like most meta insertions, but fresh: the screenplay within the story an intrinsic part of the story. Carefully characterized. Moments of
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a dark creepy little f**ked up twisty tale. I was definitely unsettled and unnerved by it and often chilled too. I didn't always get it though. Definitely one for the darker colder nights if you want an odd scary tale. Maybe a library book though as it's so short 10 seems a tad steep - if I'm allowed to say that. ...more
Umut Reviews
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Creepy little novella that's just perfect for October spooky reads. I really enjoyed the atmospheric writing that put me at the edge of my seat. I listened to it on Audible, so it was even more scary!
Recommended if you're looking for a chilling, short read.
Diane S ☔
2.5 Wanted to pick up at least something for October that was billed as horror. This one is act a novella, a one sitting read. A man rents a house in Germany, wanting only to finish his screenplay. He brings along his wife and four year old daughter. Soon things start happening, at first he thinks it is his perception but soon realizes there is something wrong with the house. Pictures appearing, disappearing, doors not there one minute, than appearing, and other strange occurrences.

This was an
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A screenwriter rents a house, surrounded by woods and overlooked by two glaciers. Having had a success with one movie, with the rather dubious title, “Besties,” he is under pressure to complete the follow up. He feels his university educated wife, Susanna, sneers at his light hearted comedies, but it pays the bills and these have increased since the couple had a daughter – four year old Esther. Susanna feels that her husband is absent and disinterested. He tends to be frustrated by the demands ...more
Alice Lippart
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I guess I'm not sleeping tonight then. Yikes.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightfully sinister novella that essentially puts a bunch of tried and true horror tropes into a blender but still rewards the reader with its almost unbearably tense atmosphere. Though the creepy house in the woods setting does most of the legwork - I'm afraid this won't be winning any awards for creativity any time soon - it was a fantastically entertaining way to spend an hour. The translation is excellent; really poised writing that convincingly unravels with the main character's mental ...more
Interesting little novella that has a House of Leaves vibe going on, I just wish it had a little more meat on its bones. Still, nice creepy atmosphere and set-up, that will leave you feeling claustrophobic and paranoid.
"Something strange just happened."

This is a simple story of a screenwriter who takes his family to a vacation home in the Alps to work on his writing, and to spend time with his wife and daughter. Things start being a little "off" in the house, and he hears mutterings in town of the house's mysterious owner.

Reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, this is a clever and eerie short book - just over 100 pages. As a reader, we're not quite clear on what's actually happening - the nature of their
Nancy Oakes
Everywhere I turn when reading about this book I find comparisons to Stephen King's The Shining. In one sense, I get it, because it is about a man who has taken his family off to a remote location so he can work on a screenplay, and weird stuff starts happening around him. In another sense, in my most humble of casual-reader opinions, to liken it to The Shining sort of cheapens this book in a big way. It also makes for a number of readers having dashed or unfulfilled expectations -- after all, ...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
God Almighty, this was a creepy read. I have seen other people saying it didn't freak them out, but it worked for me.

Certainly reminding me of John Carpenter's movies, this is a story of a family of three going to vacation in a house in mountains. Story is told from father's perspective, who is a screen writer and his mind is always busy with work. He realises tiny, weird things in the house. Then the rest of the story comes through pretty quickly.

A short and haunting read. Perfect for October!
4.5/5. Guess I won‘t be sleeping tonight... If you're looking for a thoroughly creepy novella to read in one sitting on a dark October/November/December night, this is the one! (And yep, it has been translated into English.)
M. Sarki
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

One of the most difficult books to illustrate the reason for my giving it four stars. From the first day until my last I never had a handle on where even the minimal characters or myself ever were. Each day's entry into the journal developed the mystery further and resulted in an ending unexpected but somehow understood. Kehlmann has provided a short work in which to ponder and one day want to read again.
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, horror
Spooky but short...

Our narrator is a screenwriter who had a big success with his last film – a light buddy movie. Now he's under pressure to come up with a script for a follow-up and he's struggling. So he takes his wife and young daughter to an isolated house in the mountains of Germany where he hopes he'll be able to write. But the house seems to have been built on some kind of nexus that distorts space and reality, and people have disappeared from it before...

This is a pretty standard scary
And you thought your recent Airbnb experience was a nightmare? This is a horror novella about a writing retreat gone bad. The narrator is a screenplay writer who’s overdue delivering the sequel to Besties. As he argues with his partner, tries to take care of his daughter and produces fragments of the screenplay, the haunted house in the mountains starts to close in on him. I’ve loved Kehlmann’s work before (especially F), but he couldn’t convince me of the narrator’s state of mind or the peril ...more
Well, oops. I sat down intending to read a couple of pages of this, but before I know it the afternoon has disappeared and I've finished the whole book. And I'm meant to be cutting down on my reading... But this was so compelling, and there was no way I could put it down once I'd started. At barely 100 pages long, this is a short-but-sweet, creepy tale told in the format of an artist's journal. That is a failed, bored screenwriter, made famous by his first screenplay, which sounds like a light ...more
Claire Fuller
Read as part of my haunted-house-reads series. And this one actually scared me. The unnamed narrator, wife, and child are staying in a modern house up a winding track in the Alps. He is meant to be writing his screenplay, bits of which we read interspersed with musings on his marriage, as well as unexplained notes and happenings in the house. It gets creepier and creepier until just like the villagers I wanted to shout, 'Get out!'. I wasn't completely sure about the ending, because of this: ...more
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-translation
Unsettling and creepy, You Should Have Left is packed with tension and written in a creative and ingenious way.

Daniel Kehlmann took the trope of the haunted house and explored it through the lenses of a screenwriter who's taken his family to the Alps in order to concentrate on writing a sequel to his latest successful movie, Besties.

There is perhaps nothing particularly groundbreaking about this novella - for those who read a lot of horror and haunted houses stories, this might not add much,
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The moment I saw this cover and read the premise I knew I had to pick it up. The premise sounded awesome, but combined with such a stark and unsettling cover, this one looked right up my alley.

You Should Have Left is told in a journal style by an unnamed narrator who is vacationing in the mountains of Germany with his wife and 4-year-old daughter. This getaway isn't strictly for relaxation though, as the narrator is on a deadline for his next screenplay. The screenplay is interspersed in the
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply amazing. Written as diary entries, a writer rents a cabin in the mountains with his wife and daughter. He's trying to finish a screenplay for the sequel to his popular (yet terrible) movie. As tensions rise, weird things start happening in the house. Is it haunted? Is he crazy?

This book is very spooky. I'm sure many people will hate the ending, but it's a short novella and I think well worth the read.
wow?? not what i was expecting???? this might end up being something i think about a lot, great psychological thriller
Stephanie (That's What She Read)
This was a creepy little novella. An unnamed narrator spends a few days in an isolated modern cabin with his wife and daughter with the intent of working on his screenplay. The house and his perceptions start to play tricks on him. Recommend for a quick unsettling story!
Viv JM
I picked this up after its conclusion on the longlist for the Best Translated Book Award. I am somewhat baffled as to why it was included. It's a fairly run-of-the-mill haunted house story - you know the trope, "is-the-house-haunted-or-am-I-losing-my-mind?" - but with the added downside of having an unbearably tedious protagonist. The narrator of the audiobook (Peter Noble) was OK, considering what he had to work with.

What a letdown! I hope the others on the longlist are better than this.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, horror
Didn't get along with the writing style- and had no clue what was going on half the time.
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Wow, this short story really packs a punch. A screenwriter and his family head to the mountains for a family getaway so he can finish his script, and ... well, there's isolation, there's marital strife, there's bad dreams, there's a baby monitor, and you can probably guess the rest. I was surprised and pleased at how Lovecraftian it felt, despite being a thoroughly modern horror story in tone and scope. A fun read for the back porch at sunrise – less fun in a dark room at midnight!

(EDIT: I only
An utterly chilling novella. Mildly experimental prose—recounted in journal entries that start and stop as the protagonist picks up and puts down his pen throughout the day, including fragments of the screenplay he's trying and failing to write—coupled with marital dissolution makes for a page-turner haunted house story set in the Austrian mountains.

The story teeters between straight horror and ambiguous psychological thriller. You never quite get a solid grasp on the protagonist, which makes
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A potent little spinetingler, this takes little more than an hour to read, and that hour will mostly consist of atmosphere building and a growing sense of dread. It's not a gruesome, jump scares or monsters kind of horror, but more a modern Twilight Zone kind of vibe.

Eerie and chilly (as opposed to chilling), and a little too familiar maybe, like 'I've read this before, or seen it in a movie' (or maybe it was an episode of the Twilight Zone) but it's also possible that was intentional? Anyway,
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, novella
To anyone who says haunted house stories have already been done, I say: give me more! Including this book! It packs so much creep into such a small space, and does clever things with language too. This is read-in-one-sitting horror at its finest.
Sherri Silvera
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sufficiently creepy!
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HPL Reads: NY Times Book Review// You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann 1 22 Jul 07, 2017 09:43AM  

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Daniel Kehlmann is a German-Austrian author.

His novel Measuring the World was translated into more than forty languages. Awards his work has received include the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Heimito von Doderer Literature Award, the Kleist Prize, the WELT Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. Kehlmann divides his time between Vienna and Berlin.
“But why people? I asked. What does he care about people? He’s a bear.” 1 likes
“Ehe. Das Geheimnis ist, dass man sich ja doch liebt. Ich würde nicht ohne sie sein wollen - selbst ihr Schauspielerlachen würde mir fehlen. Und sie nicht ohne mich. Wenn man einander nur nicht unterdessen so auf die Nerven fiele.” 0 likes
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