OBSTACLES by Richard Lettau


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Obstacles is a set of experimental tales- obstacle courses, if you like- employing parables, diaries, anecdotal abstractions, antiphonal fragments and so forth, as a means of mirroring consciousness at its stillest point, much the way a mirror mirrors a road map of a non-existent terrain. The tales- more or less in the tradition of Kafka, Hoffmannsthal, Borges, circumscribe a kind of supernaturalism of the everyday, post-symbolist variations on the theme of nothingness. The style, deceptively facile, even playful (""Every summer the widow Saatmantel, whose youth belongs to legend, sends out invitations to thunderstorms..."" is a typical opener), moves towards no apparent conclusion, until suddenly in a barely perceptible shift, we are given a mole's view of humanity, an epigrammatic summation of the labyrinth, e.g., ""A new war has started, against completely new enemies. This time we are our own enemies. That way no one gets defeated."" Enter Manig, is a baffling, funny, horrific tour de force-balancing rationalism and surrealism in a study of the mind at the end of its mimicry. Superbly translated from the German. An avant garde event.

Publisher: Pantheon