WHAT REMAINS by Christa Wolf


and Other Stories
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 Ten years' worth of stories by (formerly East) German writer Wolf (Accident, 1989; No Place on Earth, 1982; etc.), with the title novella being of most interest: a woman writer is being followed closely by secret police, with her own internal censor in full gear as well. Wolf's career has been more a haunting of Soviet-bloc literature than a challenge to it: she creates a kind of critical nausea through indirection, blank spots, and implications. In her novels and memoirs this aphasic quality to her writing works as an eventual spell; here, in shorter works, it seems to function less securely. There are a few direct satires: ``The New Life and Opinions of a Tomcat'' (a cat cataloguing, in good German fashion, every vagary of human behavior); ``A Little Outing to H.'' (a town populated with discarded characters from fiction); and ``Self-experiment'' (a woman scientist agrees to take a drug that will turn her into a man). There are also some notebook-like, feckless chroniclings of the everyday (``Unter den Linden'' and ``Tuesday, September 27''). But only the first memoir--``Exchanging Glances'' (Wolf and her German family futilely trying to keep a step ahead of the conquering Russian army at the end of WW II)--and the title novella allow a real focus to emerge, allow for a subject centered enough to be treated with immediacy, as well as with Wolf's abstracting irony.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-374-28888-7
Page count: 270pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992


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