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Peter Handke. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-374-10054-4

One recognizes as pure Handke the scene, atmosphere, voice and tensions of this tale: the minutely observed streets of Salzburg and the countryside beyond; the still, murky air; the brooding, meditative voice; the sense of a violent storm gathering in narrator Andreas Loser's inner spaces. Unaccountably, Loser has knocked down a stranger in the street, taken a leave of absence from his post as teacher of ancient languages and left his family to move to a drab flat in a housing development. Why any of this has happened he cannot fathom. His attention is riveted elsewhere, as for example on the thresholds of structures in archeological digs (thresholds both actual and figurative enthrall him). He sees the ""accursed mark'' of a swastika painted on a tree and thereupon crosses a threshold in his own mind; running down the perpetrator, he stones him to death. Is he in turn now a criminal? To whom shall he confess his crime? Can he receive absolution? Those who gravitate to the regions where fiction, poetry, imaginative flights and speculative fancy converge constitute Handke's natural audience. (June)