Only begin to imagine the only problem I had the stories was their unremitting sadness As I began this is poetry of despair and I could only read this very slender book for short periods of time alternating with hopeful works I found myself feeling numbed and cold after reading her for longer than a half hourA brilliant writer but perhaps one to read in moderation This is something of a it s not you it s me review as Fleur Jaeggy is clearly a wonderful talented writer but this type of abstract short story isn t really to my taste indeed had it not come as part of my And Other Stories subscription a publisher I am proud to support it is a book I would have been unlikely to readSo despite the two star rev I m nchanted and disturbed This is a brief book of very short stories some only two pages There s no traditional sense of plot or character development I would call her style gothic minimalism It s the sense you get when you know you re all alone but you see something move swiftly from the corner of your Hard Bread (Phoenix Poets eye Crystalline laconic sentences Death theology and the anxious paranoid heart at the centre of all unhappy families Love in its contorted form deeply claustrophobic poisonous deadly Characters range from suspicious siblings to deranged husbands to devoted 13th century mystics to a fish in a restaurant auarium It s the final story a loving tribute to Ingebord Bachmann stripped of all sentimentality that s light as air Her stories will haunt meMy full review appears here Reading Fleur Jaeggy for the first time after a couple of mediocre litfic novels was like having a glass of ice cold water thrown in my face on a hot day Invigorating refreshing and something of a relief if notxactly what you would describe as pleasantJaeggy writes in staccato sentences and writes of the indistinctly strange Her prose is the kind that forces you to sit up straight and pay attention A single paragraph can contain so much that you will needwant to read it five times before moving on to the next This is partly because details sometimes seem to be mentioned randomly or related in the wrong order but read again and it will become clear very word is placed deliberately With unnerving precisionThis collection reads like a classic a book that could just have asily been written in the 19th century as today Something about it put me in mind of Arthur Koestler s Darkness at Noon though I couldn t uite tell you what Some of Jaeggy s premises such as that of the sinister The Aviary a ueasy story which culminates in a young man imprisoning his wife in a birdcage reminded me of The Doll s Alphabet by Camilla GrudovaIn the second story Negde I highlighted a sentence because I loved it but now I come to look at it again I realise it s also a perfect description of the book itself There is calm a vague stealthy disuietude some void I can t stop thinking about that phrase some void How perfect is that You need to be prepared to grapple with some void in order to read Jaeggy You will navigate Forgetful of Their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500-1100 eerie stasis and sense horror lurking between the lines For me this was a thrillingxperience Certainly an author I will be returning to Favourite stories I Am the Brother of XX The Last of the Line Agnes The Aviary Tropics Names Favourite lines and passagesAnd now there is the nightmare the one and only nightmare of living I Am the Brother of XX I am twenty five I have done what was according to my sister important But when I was ight I was a poet and a writer And no one had told me that it was important to write Since then I have only done things that were important according to my sister studying graduating succeeding in life In the street I look at people passing by while I should be going to talk to someone about Ys one step ahead or to the side of her readers’ xpectationsIn this her long awaited return we read of an ‘eerie maleficent calm a brutal calm’ and recognise the timbre of a writer for whom a paradoxical world seethes with uiet violencePraise for Fleur Jaeggy‘A wonderful brilliant savage writer’ Susan Sontag ‘Fleur Jae. .
Job I tell myself that very
ONE OF THEM PERHAPS IS SUCCEEDING of them perhaps is succeeding life Am the Brother of XX Winter the real season of the year As
in Saint The wide river lay white and frozen like a continent s tongue lapsed Saint Petersburg The wide river lay white and frozen like a continent s tongue lapsed silence So he wrote An arcane hypoborean breeze on the branches of trees Iosif can t help living in watery places He is like a sailor He plays with the lunatic wind star that pushes him towards the river He liked the blue uniforms of navy officers and their coats with double rows of gold buttons Like avenues at night their lights receding Negde Caspar is seized by nostalgia Nostalgia for the children in the portrait The food repels him he throws it to the dogs He fills a glass with port It is night The Last of the Line There is a stillness in the room a sound from afar almost a primary sound that wants to be listened to as silence The Last of the Line I bought little orchid plants They came from Holland From South America I had seen them in the Mediterranean Growing in the damp White with purple yelets Rosy pale an Wicked Loving Lies evilxpression Acidulous Yellow They last a long time Not much La heredera del mar earth Not much nourishment They reawaken in the dark at night Avid for company When they wilt they become small skulls in tuxedos Tiny night birds They look at me I look at them Agnes The vegetation reeked of anerie maleficent calm a brutal calm Agnes The girl saw her thoughts on the window panes like insects swollen with blood on the walls of a room The Heir She smiled sweetly It is not clear to whom But from one window insects flew The Visitor What names do nameless things have And what are they And if they had a name would that alone make them recognisable Osmosis The flush of spring the scent was nauseating tainted and too strong The solemn and glorious instant just before dissolution In a field he saw flowers with small purple wounds The Perfect Choice I was always struck by her ineluctable delicacy of spirit if one might call it that in her way of approaching others specially friends As though she knew with the precision of a mathematician all the nuances that might hurt or wound The Salt Water House Memories are not properly a past The Salt Water House TinyLetter Twitter Instagram Tumblr A haunting collection of 21 short stories the strongest of which voke feelings of claustrophobia discontent nostalgia and sadness Jaeggy s stories center around some common themes family dysfunction personal losses traced across time and generations traces of staggering inhumanity mbedded in history s arc In many of these stories time seems to xist in layers making it possible to see shadows of the past in the present In my favorite story in the collection Negde we follow Iosif Brodsky on a walk to the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights during which he moves from Brooklyn to St Petersburg and time moves from across the 20th century to the 21st century They saw them burning from the Promenade s uiet zone They witnessed the destruction They were there the spectators they saw them burn reflected in the water The windows seemed to reawaken Fire on the bay Iosif may know that they are no longer there The two towers are missing There in front of the Promenade The glint of vil They left grief and an abyss that are not wiped away by a hand or by words Iosif revisited the Neva then turned back Elsewhere a night without shadows in the month of May he wrote by that light The light was clear rosy faint Now he writes in the dark All he needs is a sheet of paper and ink as long as darkness lasts Every place is to him a mental city called Negde which in Russian means nowhere And Iosif would go nowhere so as to breathe A volume recommended for its revealing Jaeggy s ability to voke so much pain and longing in so few words. Ggy’s pen is an Aramaic Bowl Spells: Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Bowls Volume One engraver’s needle depicting roots twigs and branches of the tree of madnessxtraordinary’ Joseph Brodsky ‘She has the nviable first glance for people and things she harbors a mixture of distracted levity and authoritative wisdom’ Ingeborg Bachmann ‘Small scale intense and impeccably focused’ New York. .
35 stars rounded up Not because the writing is flawed The writing is superb but does not suit my present mood it seems This lady read a book Sometimes she wears glasses Sometimes she does not She likes chocolates The room smelled of vanilla The light changed She finished it with uiet fury She was put in a cage Exuisite highly polished little gems of mostly abstract tale tellingThese stories are uintessential Jaeggy cool brainy slightly perverse Settings and descriptions are kept to a minimum characters are rarely named and motions are controlled While violence is nearly always in the background Jaeggy manages to maneuver her protagonists in such a way that we rarely see them ngaging in it violent denouements are almost always a fait accompli or something we "think may happen in the future as readers we rarely see "may happen in the future as readers we rarely see character doing anything and outcomes are left to our imagination This curiously detached telling allows Jaeggy to indulge in some outrageous scenarios without ver making them xplicit or too unsettling to absorb incest child abuse sadism and domestic violence all feature in these stories but in such a way that they never seem too shocking or gross we read we observe and only at the
end do we feel uneasy as what we ve read sinks in and spreads out Jaeggy somehowdo we feel uneasy as what we ve read sinks in and spreads out Jaeggy somehow to make her readers complicit without giving us a chance to know uite what it is we re condoning Her work is unsettling for that reason and that s also why I recommend it Not as compelling as the novels or the ssay collection but these thematically linked micro fictions are well worth reading Pick hits Title story The Last of the Line Negde Agnes Tropics Names The Hanging Angel FK The Salt Water House I had this book on my coffee table in my living room for two weeks and I couldn t bring myself to open it I think it was the description of the to be read stories that made me reluctantI would inevitably read something One Wild Weekend else over the 2 week period Here were the descriptions one from the publishers of the book and one from the Paris Review A wife is suspended in a bird cage a thirteenth century visionary senses the flesh of Christ on her tongue for the blasted glory of it a homeless orphan immolates the aristocrat who took her in Whether telling of mystics tormented families or the inner lives of famously private writers Jaeggy s terse telegraphic prose is always psychologically clearyed and deeply moving always one step ahead or to the side of her readers Forgetful of Their Sex expectations In this her long awaited return wexperience her Naturally Naughty Wicked Willing eerie maleficent calm a brutal calm and recognize the timbre of a writer for whom a gothic world seethes with uiet In these short stories some only a few pages long Jaeggy proves herself to be a poet of despair She writes in one story Creation can be an act of destruction and that feels like a good tagline for many of these stories There is a muted violence in them suicides and murders but all smothered under a blanket of mute suffering A young man who felt loved only by his sister but nevertheless believes she used him for his drama kills himself An orphan taken in by anlderly woman burns her alive Despite the intense drama there is a curious lack of feeling in these stories Brief F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby even terse they are moments that contain lifetimes It s amazing how much story Jaeggy apparentlyffortlessly compacts into a few pagesThe writer is apparently something of a recluse She has had few friends that she speaks of other than the famous writer beloved by me Ingeborg Bachmann who is a featured player in the last story of the collection a writer who needs little ncouragement not to speakSadly I can only read these stories in translation not in their original Italian If her prose is striking in translation I can. A wife is suspended in a bird cage; a thirteenth century visionary senses the foreskin of Christ on her tongue Fleur Jaeggy’s gothic imagination knows no limits Whether telling of mystics tormented families or famously private writers Jaeggy’s terse telegraphic writing is always psychologically clear yed and deeply moving alwa.