cover image The Jukebox and Other Essays on Storytelling

The Jukebox and Other Essays on Storytelling

Peter Handke. Farrar Straus Giroux, $21 (167pp) ISBN 978-0-374-18054-6

In Handke's metafictional title piece--a parable on self-evasion and writer's block--a traveler in Spain makes elaborate preparations to begin a long-planned essay about the jukebox, symbol of American pop culture. The transparent luminosity of the Austrian novelist/poet/memoirist's earlier books ( A Sorrow Beyond Dreams ) has given way, in the three essays gathered here, to a freewheeling, innovative, sometimes tedious experimentalism that pushes back the limits of narrative form. ``Essay on Tiredness,'' a question-and-answer dialgoue, relates various types of fatigue and ennui to student rebellion, lovers' disenchantment, political apathy and so forth. In the concluding piece, a self-portrait by William Hogarth leads Handke to contemplate the idea of a ``successful day,'' which springboards into a meditation on the art of living in the present moment. Handke seamlessly mingles memories, associations, precise observation, digressions and social commentary. (Aug.)