Norbert Guchtern’s novel “Four Days, Three Nights”. review – culture

“Don’t worry, he just wants to play,” one would say to readers of Norbert Guchten’s latest novel. The texts dance across the abyss, adorned mostly with female corpses, mix bad luck with bad intentions and speak again and again of cheerful eviction in the terrible noise, something like: This is just the effect of a speech, it was said, told by one of the characters, presumably, exaggerated.

One tends to accept the warnings of the first-person eternal narrators in Guchtrin’s books, yes, to accentuate them in literary terms while reading: what is exciting and softened by interpretation on each page is only the effect of a growing and branching misunderstanding, burdensome language and narrative inversion, which is not even suggested to be confused. between it and a known fact. This is how we have always known Norbert Guchtene, but sometimes the historical material is interesting, as in the “English Years” for example about a Jewish biography stolen during and after World War II or in his accounts of the Yugoslav wars of disintegration.

In his latest books “When I Was Young” and “Der Zoet Jacob”, Norbert Guchtene significantly increased the production of linguistic influences. In the new novel “Four Days, Three Nights,” an ever-growing group of three characters severely damaged by sexual desire creates a sweeping space of semantic ambiguity. There are no facts, only words. Perhaps a single flow of speech results in many psychosexual changes in proper names.

Evil acts are committed indirectly, while others fall victim more and more ingeniously

The narrator Elias, who is still a young man who is not good at anything, takes out his imaginary lover Ines for his whole life and immediately makes her his sister, until we deal with a man of incest. To amuse themselves, they both recruit other players who are tempted by their desires so that they can torture them to their toxic addiction. Or make them double lovers. or kill it.

But it is never that clear. Facts are only fantasies with a secret scheme, and novels are systems for creating mystery. which aims to reverse the general communicative practice that communicates by means of systems of misunderstanding. At least that’s Norbert Guchten’s aesthetic programme. Let’s take a simple example, an early and good homicide. Teenager Marcel Fichtner travels with his parents to the ski hotel of the siblings’ wealthy father. He desires Inas, and shares her dealings with her, as the jealous Elias tells it. He recalled after Marcel’s fatal accident: “At that time we had a bullet in the steepest part of the cliff, right along the way of the elevator, for our descent, two hundred metres, prepared as hard as a board, which might tear you apart with the smallest mistake, And it wasn’t that big, it’s a mystery why young Fichtner thought he should follow us and throw himself there, even though he hadn’t skied for eight days a year. To him, ‘You don’t dare,’ I laughed defiantly, he tried it alone.”

And this could not be the beginning of the “Natural Born Killers” story. But the production of lovers and victims becomes more subtle, and the course of events becomes more and more ambiguous, as psychological divergence is increasingly transformed into verbal divergence. The modal and passive combinations, stylistic words, and complex tenses accumulate like futurists. In such sentence constructions, all semantic stability and psychological certainty are lost.

There is as little talk about the sensible act as there is about the tangible subjects

Even in the previous two accounts, there was no distinction between taking a picture on the edge of a cliff and causing a fatal fall. Linguistic explanations that outperform the so-called brutal reality We want to call it, that is, the body of a dead man, is now more daring. The real melts in a bunch of marks. You play Scrabble in the novel, read historical love letters from unknown poets from the 1950s, and dress yourself – in the age of Corona – for a group of plague gentry fugitives in Boccaccio’s Decamerone. One writes a novel and reads from it until confession leads to hatred; One publishes a short story that annoys others; One listens for intimate telephone conversations, passing the recipient and sometimes the lover at the same time, as if in sarcasm one slaps a silent admirer with his broken jaw back in the face in front of his young children (one who wants to get out of the game of love and talk?).

At the end of this series of abnormal desires one will only think of the game of signs while reading; There can be as little talk of the sensible act as that of the tangible subject. Norbert Gestrin finally wrote a theoretical communication treatise in the form of a novel, which, if considered good literature, impresses with its over-staging and repetition.

Norbert Guchtrin: Four Days and Three Nights. a novel. Hanser, Munich 2022. 353 pages, 26 euros.

It sometimes seems to a long-time reader of Gechtrin that he wants to free himself from the compulsion of self-reference into a paradoxical intervention: not by returning to a plausibly understandable plot, but by increasing the self-reference, and closing the novel. The world of intermarriage, its forbidden intensification – is reflected in terms of content in absolute incest relations. Incest is excluded. So he does not go out into the world, but intensifies it by sexual attraction to the point where everything perfectly matches everything else.

Elias and especially Enas tend to attract other lovers, to make them dependent on the power of intellectual arrogance, and the reader cannot shake the feeling that his efforts at interpretation are indeed part of this sadistic masochistic condition. Above all, Elias drowns out his rival and shares all his neuroses and longings with him. Or a beloved takes care of it from his sister, and she enjoys it quietly.

For example, in Moritz and Karl we have two strong lovers of bipolar disorder, in Ulrich and “Shock in Love Writer” two weak sadists who were subjected to psychological and physical torture by an angry couple. There is no way out. But since all the characters tell everything obsessively, we also read about another half-sister of the incestuous couple named Emma, ​​who lives “across the border”; What is meant is “French” Italy outside of Tyrol, but we translate: outside the novel. One can see memories of the person who doesn’t speak, but a lot has been said about Jacob, the central character in Norbert Guchstern’s debut “Einer” from 1988, who, while people are still talking about, is already being transported to the psychiatric ward.

There were not many autobiographical references in Norbert Gechterin’s good novels and long stories. One must have completed a basic Gstrein course in order to enjoy reading it. But until then, the indifference that results from the standardization of means will annoy one. Only at the end of the novel lies a brief and disturbing immersion in frivolous discourse. Then Gstrein suddenly focuses on homophobia and racism in their contemporary suspicious forms. This elegant grumble in the present is so delicate that a short chapter has been written in English. One feels briefly deceived by the tragedy that occurred in cheap indignation. But the injured jump into the water together, naked. It shuts down their bodies – a final image of constant indifference.

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