River Landscape W/Womn

Heinrich Boll, Author Alfred A. Knopf $18.95 (207p) ISBN 978-0-394-56375-6
Dialogues and soliloquies make up this last novel by German Nobel laureate Boll (Group Portrait with Lady, The Safety Net), who died in 1985. It opens on a breakfast scene between Erika and her maid Katharina, who exchange dangerous confidences about politics and adultery on the morning of a memorial mass for a murdered official. The thoughts and utterances of the numerous characters reflect a skewed, madhouse reality and seem often to rise from their uncensored fears and nightmares. Men and women openly discuss their sexual liaisons, their criminal machinations, their oddities (Karl chops up grand pianos that Mozart played). Ranging from their 30s to their 70s, these people are ministers, ecclesiastics and financiers in contemporary Bonn, with their wives, ex-wives and mistresses. Boll treats his female characters with compassion. Elisabeth is confined to a rest home for political wives who know too much, where they are given therapists and gigolos. Eva considers walking into the Rhine to her death, as her mother-in-law did before her. The river, seen from villas, gardens and bedrooms becomes a symbol of past greatness and depravity, holding the fabled Rhinegold as well as broken Nazi helmets. This is Boll's indictment of present-day Germany, which he sees as infected with post-Nazi corruption and malaise. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
Hardcover - 207 pages - 978-0-8101-1227-8
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-8101-1205-6
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