Living Glimmering Lying ($26.95; Sept.;176 pp.; 0-8101-1283-3). This 1994 "novel" by the German postmodernist author of Couples, Passersby (1996), etc., once again assembles a series of vignettes—this time their setting is Berlin, after reunification—that dramatize in emotionless detail their anonymous participants' ennui, purposelessness, and alienation. A traveler waits in an empty railroad station for a train that never arrives. A happily married man is deflected from fidelity by a former lover who casually plucks him out of his own life and into hers. Relationships collapse or atrophy; lifelong goals are passively abandoned; identities blur or vanish—and the generic, affectless "personalities" of Strauss's glancingly observed "characters" induce in the reader answering passivity. We don't know who these people are, and we care nothing for them or about them.
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