|About the Book|
Nagl felt that the most natural thing in the world was to surrender oneself. Everyone keeps fighting until resistance dies out and self-surrender creates the secret hatred, the desire to see how others surrender themselves. That is the only satisfaction and the only meaning. If all people give themsleves up, it is obviously necessary. A law.Gerhard Roth is amazing. Even this, though a more modest travelogue of malaise, well displays his vision, succinct and precisely arranged prose, deft sense of the insensible juxtapositions that make up everything in life, and urgent interrogative purpose. Snap these up while no ones reading them yet.An existential crisis elaborated through an alternation of Italian travelogue and disconnected, sometimes jarring sex acts, interspersed with remembrance, and attempts to organize life into a meaningful system. Though this is Roth in later realist mode, the usual coherence that implies is undercut nicely by his earlier technique of organizing a scene from a sequence of otherwise broken-up details, especially in the crisis-instigating opening sections. Real life follows no recognizable order for most of its extent, in some ways Roths interrogation of the fallout of this fact is much realer. Nagl enacts a believable disillusion- his disintegrating relationship with Anna, ex-and-current girlfriend and travel partner is likewise believably riddled with contradictions. Sex seems at first to be the only thing holding them together, but its always more complicated than that, and Nagl seems largely to bring about his own interpersonal failure here. Over time, jarring sex acts may take on a sense of tragedy and inevitable destruction. And if Nagls arc becomes an attempted escape, its equally clear that no physical location could ever offer the escape for which hes searching.