Saturday, September 20, 2014

THE WALL by H.G. Adler

ONE   Of late I have been reading an advance copy of THE WALL by H. G. Adler.

TWO    I had looked into the two previous books by Adler that had been translated: THE JOURNEY and PANORAMA.  However the what-ever-it-is that gets a person to actually read a book was not there.  THE WALL has been different.
THREE   There is no way to read THE WALL quickly and that of course is what is always demanded and while I asked to review the book for the Los Angeles Times--- where I had reviewed over a hundred books over the years--- I have not heard from the editor.  

FOUR    THE WALL is to be published by Random House in December, an appropriately dead and proper time for a book that as I am reading makes me think of books I have had the privilege of reading and reviewing: THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES by Roberto Bolano, THE EMIGRANTS by W. G. Sebald, EXTINCTION by Thomas Bernhard, A BOOK OF MEMORIES by Peter Nadas, and FIASCO by Imre Kertesz.

FIVE    I was prepared to read these books by having read among what are now classic authors and thinkers:  Max Stirner, James Thomson BV, Julian Green, Ivan Turgenev, Ernst Junger, E.M. Cioran, Louis Ferdinand Celine, Robert Pinget, Jack Kerouac, Nina Berberova... all such lists are just that: lists.

SIX    Here is a passage from THE WALL

 The wall before me has never disappeared; I have known it for many years, not knowing when it first sprang up, though I didn't always see it.  Only when I peer forward intently and want to believe that I exist do I see it.  Otherwise it does not appear to exist; for hours, often for days, even many weeks on end, I do not notice it...

SEVEN      THE STORY:  Arthur is happily married with two children and living in what seems to be London.  He has survived both the Nazi attempt to murder him and the Communist aftermath...

EIGHT     As far as I can tell, as a reader of THE WALL,  I live only in the time of the passage of the pages...  those mythical places: past, present and future are always present on every page but sometimes there is a hint of something that might be called a back and forth momentarily in time...

NINE     672 pages.

TEN       A last quote in which Arthur talks of his wife, the who she is to him:

It's unimaginable to me what would remain of Arthur Landau without Joanna, because I have ceased to exist, called it quits, am completely spent, the vestige of a memory of who I no longer am, maybe even a message from nowhere, someone who can never find his footing, never land in one place.  Other people are just as dubious...

ELEVEN     I have not mentioned the names of the camps that Adler endured as I was wondering if we have gotten to a point where we can read say the books of Adler, of Imre Kertesz, of Abram Tertz, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn without mentioning this experience?

TWELVE    I probably should have been talking about Hermann Broch and Elias Canetti and Hermann Langbein but I have already indicted and convicted myself with the previously mentioned books and authors.