Thursday, June 21, 2007

Plots are for gardeners

His is among the most recognizable of contemporary styles: time and again he evokes the restless subjectivity of an artist figure crossing a vividly described, yet somehow strangely elusive landscape. Walking, going, is the supreme existential metaphor for Handke, an attempt to 'slow down' the fugitive forces of nature, to use one of his favourite verbs. Through the untiring precision of his powers of observation the very process of writing becomes a homage to the 'god of slowness': indeed his prose, always visual and cinematic, often reads as though in slow motion, spooled softly forwards until the telling detail emerges. 'For a work of art' Handke writes ... 'material is almost nothing, structure almost everything.' For better or for worse, 'plot' has always been secondary to Handke's synaesthetic engagement with the world.
From Ben Hutchinson's TLS review of, amongst other things, Handke's latest novel Kali. We can be sure it applies also to the forthcoming translation of Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, published on July 10th.

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