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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 22 July 2018

"Next World Novella" by Matthias Politycki

A sinologist goes into his study to find his wife lying dead, apparently from a stroke. Just before she died she was editing a short story he had written years ago and he tries to understand her annotations. She believes his tale was autobiographical and confessional and as he reads on he discovers her perspective on him, their marriage, and death. At first he bemoans the one-sidedness of the discussion: “To be dead, he thought, means above all that you can't answer questions, you can't clear things up, you can't get things straight and see that you may have misunderstood them” (p 70) Later he comes to realise that it is he who has misunderstood. “Being dead, he thought, means first and foremost that you can't apologize, can't forgive and be reconciled, there's nothing left to be forgiven, only to be forgotten. Or rather there's nothing to be forgotten, only forgiven.” (p 128). And, right at the end, there is the hint of a second chance.

A carefully constructed story, with moments of perfect prose.

Some great lines:
  • From the far end of his room autumn sunlight came flooding in, bathing everything in a golden or russet glow - the chaise-longue in the corner was a patch of melting colour. They'd have to open a window to let all that light out later.” (p 7)
  • Checking the way his hair lay over his bald patch, stroking the back of his head, he told himself that he was a happy man.” (p 7) 
  • He didn't want to live forever in any case, he added defiantly; there was an end to everything, even a sausage had two ends.
  • She'd already done ‘everything she could’ to make sure her family could manage, everything - do you know what that means? I'd rather not imagine it in any detail. Without sometimes fleecing one or another of the men pursuing her tenaciously, without going off with some of the takings now and then, she couldn't have coped.” (p 111)
  • Wasn't life nothing but betrayal? And, even more, being betrayed?” (p 126)
  • The sun lay on the parquet and made it shine. Schlepp closed his eyes. He would have to open a window to let all that happiness out again later.” (last line)
July 2018; 138 pages

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