ANOTHER REVIEW: SULZER:”A PERFECT WAITER”

Strange concomitances of theme and thought in the co-incidence of reading this immediately after “The Story of the Night”.

There is a similiar elegiac tone to the tale(in itself), though the language(at least it APPEARS so) is more consciously constructed.

But some phrases reminded me of the Toibin text- of the protagonist, Erneste(the “perfect””, unobtrusive waiter of the title): “Shadowlike when he had to be…”; (in reference to a letter Erneste’s former lover, Jakob, sends to him); “by not opening it he brought time to a halt”.

In fact, it is another attempt, in literary form, at the redemption, that is the recapturing for and in the present, of time past/lost: Sulzer does this poignantly in his two parallel narratives; of Erneste in the present, having his love for Jakob re-awakened, like a ghost from the past, and Erneste, thirty years earlier, in his {omnisciently related} love affair with Jakob, in the 1930s.

A gradually fading hotel in Switzerland is the slightly spectrally geographical backdrop to this earlier narrative.

Particuarly intriguing is an imagined conversation with one of Jacob’s other lovers, who is obviously (at least!) loosely based on Thomas Mann, who, it is  now established(by acdemics!) was at least bisexual and possibly homosexual. They come to quite a moving rapprochement, as Erneste is about to blackmail Mann/”Klinger”, when he learns of Jakob’s sudden death.

Reading this in conjunction with (starting!)Nadas’s “Book of Memories”, it brings up to me, the subject of vertical time again(whereby past events are present IN the present via vivid memory, and co-exist concurrently{in memory only, of course}); and aligns with the overall themes of this blog, regarding memory, an ATTEMPT at regaining lost time,and the (semi) desuetude of gradually decaying buildings.

Politically, it could be argued that this book, with its same-sex love themes, perpetuates the old stereotypes of same-sex lovers as doomed(even vulnerable to blackmail); but these awful things happened repeatedly, and still DO(in some repressive/backward countries), but I like the idea that we now seem to be past the idea that a writer who employs themes of same-sex love has to give solely positive  representations; and I think, especially now in the UK, it is especially needful from a literary(NOT political) line, where NO particular images , even especially affirmative ones,need to be put forward. This is because, there should be total freedom in literature; it should be WHOLLY uncensored, in ANY way, as long as its not read by under-age people or actually actively INCITES to, or  propounds, emotional/physical violence(though I am not naive here; i know it is a complex area).

I would recommend it to those with a penchant for melancholy and elegiac writing.

Now back to “The Book of Memories” and, possibly, “The Blackwater Lightship”(Toibin again).

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Published by: decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)

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