A spellbinding short story collection by one of Austria’s most critically acclaimed authors.
A man becomes obsessed with observing his neighbours. A large family gathers for Christmas only to wait for the one member who never turns up. An old woman lures a man into her house where he finds dolls resembling himself as a boy. Mesmerizing and haunting stories about loss of identity in the modern world.
In a nutshell:
I read it in: the original German (Die Kinder beruhigte das nicht)
I liked it: Yes
For people who like: creepy short stories with an eerie atmosphere
You have probably heard of this book by now. So had I before I started reading. I read this is German and I don’t think I have ever come across a writer who writes in such a precise way and who conjured such a clear picture of what is going on. I read the stories, strange and disturbing, watched people do things and could picture every little detail.
The story that stuck with me most was the one that gave the book its English title “Maybe this time, maybe now”. Those family gatherings were so bizarre and at the same time so common. Maybe here it is a bit more unusual than most, but haven’t we all been to events where a lot of time was spent wondering who would still be coming, when they would arrive or what keeps them from showing up (all this possibly to hide the fact that there is nothing else to talk about). The ubiquitous Uncle Walter who at the same time was never there was familiar in a strange way.
The German title “Die Kinder beruhigte das nicht” (This didn’t calm down the children) is not the title of one of the short stories, but it is part of a sentence in the third story in the book “Then a door opens and swings shut”. An upsetting story that gave the idea for another German cover with a doll face on it. I find dolls rather frightening and women keeping dolls and treat them like children have a certain weirdness about them, sorry, no offense intended.
In that particular scene the narrator visits a school friend and inquires about their neighbour, an old woman with an odd collection of dolls. She is an outcast, the children are afraid of her and avoid her whenever they can, they throw pebbles against her window etc. So the friend’s wife tries to appease their two daughters by saying that the woman will be moving away soon and that the reason she is only looking for company is that she is lonely. The narrator then observes that “this didn’t calm down the children”.
Some stories I didn’t like as much, for example “Encounter” or “The beginning of something” but I loved Alois Hotschnig’s writing style and will definitely get more of his books.
Here are the stories with their original and English titles. My favourites were “Two ways of leaving” and “Maybe this time, maybe now”, probably because even though they were strange and creepy, they were still conceivable (at least for me).
Dieselbe Stille – dasselbe Geschrei (The same silence – the same noise)
Zwei Arten zu gehen (Two ways of leaving)
Eine Tür geht dann auf und fällt zu (Then a door opens and swings shut)
Vielleicht diesmal, vielleicht jetzt (Maybe this time, maybe now)
Der Anfang von etwas (The beginning of something)
In meinem Zimmer brennt Licht (The light in my room)
Morgens, mittags, abends (Morning, noon and night)
Du kennst sie nicht, es sind Fremde (You don’t know them, they’re strangers)
Product info and buy link :
|Title||Maybe this time|
|I got this book from||I swapped it|
|Buy link||Buy Maybe This Time|
|More info||Maybe this time at Peirene Press|
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.
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