From SÅskind, author of Perfume (1986) and The Pigeon (1988), comes this tiny little pleasure, hardly more than a longish and quietly garrulous short story, about a handful of years in a post- WW II German boyhood. Symbols fall like quiet raindrops here as a nameless narrator recalls his boyhood life in the village of Lower Lake—learning to ride a bicycle, falling out of a tree, being disappointed in first love, suffering absurdly and terribly (to the point of considering suicide) through the hilarious agony of piano lessons. As daily life unfolds itself to this boy, he quietly observes the odd Mr. Summer, the mysterious and solitary village eccentric who endlessly and incessantly walks alone, tramping for mile after mile along road and trail and pathway and in every kind of weather throughout the surrounding countryside. At story's end, the lives of Mr. Summer and of the nameless boy will come together in a way that's unexpected, terrible, pathetic, and exquisite. Sometimes verging on the saccharine or the slight, but never calamitously, SÅskind's story offers the pleasures of a modest, private, unassuming glimpse into cosmic grief—the way a first-rate Garrison Keillor monologue can do, say, or a Dylan Thomas memory of long-ago childhood in Wales.
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