Why Is There Salt in the Sea?
The author of this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age account (published in her native Austria in 1977 and here in its first English translation) prefers to call it an ""inner monologue'' rather than a novel. The narrative unfolds in glimpses, fragments, moments in the life of an unhappy young woman. Her intrusive, over-solicitous Mama, Papa and Grandma incessantly nag her to be ``respectable.'' Just look at her, her nice new dress is wrinkled. She looks like a corpse, they say, a skinny oneeats too little, smokes too much, drinks strong black coffee on an empty stomach. Her martinet of a husband, an engineer who believes the invincible German forces would have won the war if only Hitler had listened to his generals, reduces her to the status of an appendage, and she retaliates by fully confirming with her body his accusation that she is ``frigid.'' Her passport says it all in the word: ``Occupation: housewife.'' Schwaiger's ironic monologue adds very little to the familiar portrait of the contemporary, disaffected, middle-class woman, but her distinctive voice is one worth hearing. (April)