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In the atmospheric latest from Handke (The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, etc.), a nameless female banker in a nameless northern European city decides for obscure reasons to repeat a journey to Spain she took years before, and to commission a nameless author from La Mancha to write her biography. The journey provides a hopscotch structure for the drifting narrative, marked by fantastic events that may or may not be taking place and by speculative conversations with the dreamlike figures the woman meets. As she travels, the woman is stalked, possibly, by a half-brother whose name may or may not be Vladimir. When the woman arrives in La Mancha, she dictates the details of her life to the writer, with no particular regard for order or veracity. An intrusive narrative voice interjects with rhetorical questions, exclamations and rambling philosophical asides. Much time is spent either denying the truth of what's just been said or in defining events, people or objects through a series of overturning negations. Though beautiful in spots and sometimes witty, the novel is inconsistent and repetitive. For die-hard Handke fans, the appeal of this metafictional fable is in its playful surrender to chance. (July)
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The artistry of Peter Handke's language may well be unsurpassed among contemporary writers in German. His prose is at once serpentine and spare, dreamlike and exacting. In his latest novel translated into English, Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, the Austrian author richly demonstrates his literary gifts, and the translator, Krishna Winston, sensitively renders the mesmerizing beauty of his style. In this book, as in much of Handke's previous work, the most stirring passages disclose the inherent strangeness of the world. (Ross Benjamin, Bookforum)
A complex quest for meaning . . . Yeats called it 'the fascination of what's difficult.' Nobody writing today surpasses Peter Handke at trying to make sense of it all. (Kirkus)
Hanke's power of observation and his seemingly casual tone, in which every word bears indispensable weight, are as mesmerizing as ever . . . A Handke tale invites active reading, speculation rather than passive absorption . . . It is [his] loving gaze, honed by time and discipline that shows readers the way out again into the world's prolific and astonishing strangeness. (Kai Maristed, The New York Times Book Review on Peter Handke)
Numerous pleasures await the reader who delves into the fabric of Handke's prose . . . A subtle writer of unostentatious delicacy, Handke excels at fiction that, as it grows, coils around itself like wisteria . . . This is where the French New Novel might have gone if pushed. (Paul West, Washington Post Book World on Peter Handke)