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Soul of Wood, a collection of short stories, introduced Austrian Jakov Lind in 1965. This novel extends their primary theme-- ""In a war nobody's innocent. Or everybody. Innocence is an obsolete concept.""-- and also the experimental techniques which place him in the cadaverous company of the more talented postwar German writers. This is tragicomedy with touches of the macabre, of the obscene and the absurd, all proceeding from an unappeasable guilt. Bachman, outsized, an ""overgrown fool,"" has been discharged from the German army as insane, but he wants to try to die a second time, wandering in search of a regiment to join. In Germany, he is exploited by a scrawny, scruffy little poisoner and a dapper Major who likes men and ""changed them like shirts."" Sent on to Norway, he becomes the reluctant accomplice of the rabid Halftan who conducts a private pogrom against a local baron who has tried to hide in a ""sanctuary of illusion"" and wears his virtues ""like amulets."" Back in Germany, he returns to his big, bulbous Helga, takes her but leaves her to a lesbian fantasy, and finally convinced of his madness, turns himself in only to be declared sane. In the gray chill of survival, no lucidity remains.. .. Lind's landscape is as adamantine as its title, and if he is more forbidding than Grass with whom he has been frequently classed and compared, the book has power and will receive attention.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1966
ISBN: 1934824143
Publisher: Grove