cover image The Collected Stories of Arno Schmidt

The Collected Stories of Arno Schmidt

Arno Schmidt. Dalkey Archive Press, $13.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56478-134-5

Nobody will ever mistake Schmidt for a conventional writer. In every piece in this collection of short stories, the German author deftly juggles stream-of-consciousness narration, bizarre stage direction/punctuation (""There ! Once again : - was Something up with me now?"") and a strange, sly sense of humor-all deftly rendered by Woods, translator of the recent excellent editions of Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain. The result is experimental fiction of a very high order, narrative that will blow the socks off some readers while leaving others confused and alienated. The first two sections of this collection, titled ""Tales from Island Street"" and ""Sturenburg Stories,"" respectively, are a excellent places to begin deciphering Schmidt. The freelance writings of an author desperate for money, these short stories are much more accessible than Schmidt's longer work, while still maintaining his unique voice. The final section, ""Country Matters,"" comes like a blow from a sledgehammer. The stories are longer, much more complex, and allusions to Joyce, Freud and scientific theorems flicker by at an unheard-of speed. For a collection spanning multiple levels of postwar German experimental fiction, it's hard to do much better than this book. (Dec.)