Winner Takes All

Dieter Wellershoff, Author Carcanet Press, $0 (388p) ISBN 978-0-85635-679-7
Over ground well trodden by such novelists as Balzac, Dreiser and Mann, this ponderous contemporary German novel excavates the business world and its tangled human consequences. Having rejected the fields of medicine and philosophy, Ulrich Vogtmann, at 27, discovers the true, passionate, all-consuming love of his life: money. From a marginal job in a cannery supplying supermarkets, he schemes his way into management, takes the immemorial path of marrying the boss's daughter, the luckless and unloved Elizabeth, who, according to formula, bears him a weak, craven son with the good sense to hate his father. By instinct an empire-builder, Vogtmann expands the business and takes an expensive mistress suitable for a tycoon. In this kind of morality tale, those who rise must fall, and Vogtmann, having made a fatal commercial miscalculation, sees the whole enterprise go under, himself cast out by his betrayed wife. Wellershoff expends immense effort in exploring his protagonist's convoluted mind, but there is nothing here that we haven't already encountered elsewhere. (October 17)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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