Selected Stories by Robert Walser Rothdas book review RSS
X Stars

A very odd book. It contains dozens of 2 and 4 page stories, and then one 50 page whale of a story. Over and over, I would read the first third of a story, and think "Why am I reading this? It makes no sense, is not enjoyable, tells me nothing, and is enormously repetitive and overwritten." And then in the last half of the story Walser would bring things around, and create something really delightful and beautiful. The stories are difficult to describe, but share a common family of characteristics. They are often whimsical, and usually written with a sort of Vancian overblownness and overflowing of formality and elucidation. They are told by dandies, wretches, and precocious children, and they have a stream-of-consciousness feel about them. By stream-of-consciousness I mean not so much that they abandon punctuation, but rather they mirror the experience of walking a lot, and producing many thoughts, but not necessarily having any final consistency between the thoughts. Or to put it another way, it is like asking someone to describe themselves in multiple situations or on different days, and getting a range of different self-images or life-stories/life orderings. It's not really an effect that I have seen very often in literature.

Anyway! The stories are slow reading, and they completely avoid narrative arcs, action, or plot. They are however beautiful and unique.