Tag: Untitled Books

Sunday Story Society: “Two Ways of Leaving” by Alois Hotschnig

Today we have our first story in translation: “Two Ways of Leaving” by Alois Hotschnig (translated from the Austrian German by Tess Lewis). You can read the story here at Untitled Books; you’ll also find it in Hotschnig’s Peirene Press collection Maybe This Time.

First, I’ll link to some reviews of Maybe This Time (not of all of which touch on this particular story): 1streading; Chasing Bawa; Olivia Heal; Andrew Blackman; Beauty Is a Sleeping Cat; The Worm Hole; The Arts Fuse. I’ll also point out this interview with the translator, Tess Lewis, at Love German Books.

Now, something different. I’m going to post some questions as ‘conversation starters’; feel free to answer them or not (I want them to act as jumping-off points, not to strictly define the discussion), or ask questions of your own. Here we go:

Conversation Starters

There’s no small amount of ambiguity in “Two Ways of Leaving”, so I’d be interested to know how you interpret the relationship between the ‘he’ and ‘she’ of the story.

My abiding thought when I finished Maybe This Time was that Hotschnig’s protagonists were caught up in other people’s stories. Would you agree with that in relation to “Two Ways of Leaving”?

Though it relates to a different piece in Maybe This Time, I was struck by 1streading‘s comment that “Hotschnig is playing with the use of the pronoun ‘he’ as a ‘character’”. What does the author do with the pronoun ‘he’ in this story?

Next time: On 30 Sept, we’ll be talking about the story “Drifting House” by Krys Lee.

For now, though, it’s over to you. What did you make of “Two Ways of Leaving”?

Sunday Story Society reminder: “Two Ways of Leaving”

From this Sunday, you’re invited to join me on the blog to talk about Alois Hotschnig’s story “Two Ways of Leaving” (translated from the Austrian German by Tess Lewis). The story is taken from Hotschnig’s fine collection Maybe This Time, published by Peirene Press. It was one of my favourite pieces in the book, so I’m looking forward to the discussion.

You can read “Two Ways of Leaving” online here at Untitled Books; then come back here on Sunday when I’ll have a discussion post up.

Sunday Salon: Evie Wyld, Zoe Green

I’ve just discovered the Sunday Salon and thought I’d join in. What I’m going to do is read and blog about some short stories online. I’ll link to each story so you can read it for yourself. For this first post, I’ve decided to tackle a couple of stories from Untitled Books.

‘Menzies Meat’ by Evie Wyld takes us to the tiny mining town of Menzies in Western Australia; and Elaine, the sixteen-year-old girl who works in her father’s butcher shop there. Elaine is frustrated at being stuck in a rut and longs to get out of Menzies; the story is essentially a portrait of how her frustration builds to a head, until… but that, of course, would be telling. At first, the narrative seems to be going all over the place, but the reason becomes clear in the end: everything — from the stifling atmosphere of the shop to the salt lake that looks the same whether it’s full or dry — is an expression or mirror of Elaine’s feeling of inertia. Wyld conjures that feeling vividly.

Zoe Green’s ‘The Wake’ is narrated by someone (who could be male or female; I’m not certain) who is dying of cancer, and currently planning their own funeral, as they watch Hester (who lives in the flat below) in the garden. The action moves, paragraph by paragraph, between the present moment, the narrator’s own life (as they ruminate especiallyon an ex-lover, Ferdi), and scenes from Hester’s past. There are some quite subtle moments of characterisation, as the narrator tries (not all that successfully) to live through Hester — so the title doesn’t just refer to the ceremony being planned; for the narrator, the telling of the story itself is a kind of wake. As with ‘Menzies Meat’, this tale grows richer the more you turn it over in your mind.

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