Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass (5/81)

It might be fair to say that this is the weaker of Schulz' two collections; that is, it is not 100% consistently mind-blowing. Perhaps only 90-98%. Schuz' prose has the quality of being downright intoxicating. His tales all deal with his family and life in his hometown, but the incandescent profusion of language and imagery reveals the transcendent behind the ordinary.

The first three stories feature an obsession with texts, starting with The Book of the story by that name, in which the Authentic is regenerated, and finishing with the strange season of "Spring," in which a stamp album holds the secrets to the Hapsburg dynasty and a youthful love triangle.

In the title story, the narrator visits his father at a convalescent home, where death is kept at bay through entrechment in the past. As the not-days progress, he soon learns that he is loving in recycled time.

"The Old Age Pensioner" and "Father's Last Escape" are haunting portrayals of the metamorphosis of old age and its approach to the final transmutation of death.

Schulz wrote like no one else, and his fantasies of the everyday are worth getting lost in.

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