“The Girl with the Inexplicably Large Readership”
by Dag Dagsson
Dagsson’s thriller tells the story of two people: Salamander Lutefisk, a deeply damaged twenty-three year old computer programmer, and Bjorn Enquist, an investigative journalist. Enquist’s problem, like that of so many Scandinavian reporters, is that too many women want to have sex with him. As the novel begins, Enquist and Lutefisk team up to solve the murder of Enquist’s wealthy employer’s niece’s botanist’s reindeer, I think. Without giving away too much, I can tell you that the more this duo chases the truth, the more it recedes. Also that that whole thing is an elaborate dream sequence. Rivetingly fast paced, this novel is not just for fans of Swedish municipal politics, but also for anyone afraid to admit that they are into S&M.
by Emil Desmoines
Desmoines, the French modernist known for his wicked sense of humor, finished this masterpiece only three months before his death from getting shot in the head. We are lucky to have it. “B,” the second of a planned trilogy, still stands as the best novel ever to be written using only one letter. This new translation, ten years in the making, preserves the playfulness of the original without losing any of the spacing (double) that is so central to the novel’s ludic affect.
“A Pretty Boring Fellow”
by Gustav Munchmann
Munchmann, the overlooked master of German Modernism, has yet to find a significant English- language audience, but this lucid translation may do the trick. “Boring Fellow” is part of the “Mundane Man” series, a twenty three book description of a fortnight in the life of Hermann Budabunn, a mustachioed petit bourgeois living in 1880s Düsseldorf. Budabunn, wrinkled and timid, flawed yet deeply human, is as fully realized as any character in German literature, but considerably hairier. The book opens with Budabunn facing anagonizing choice: whether to increase the quality of cabbage used in the family sauerkraut recipe (spoiler alert: he opts to eat a pickle). Reeling from the consequences of this decision, he spends the middle third of novel interrogating his own desire to eat cheese. To long-time readers of Munchmann, it will come as no surprise that the resolution of this dilemma is both unexpected and deeply logical (spoiler alert: he is lactose intolerant). Haunted by inaction, Budabunn dwell more on choices he has not made than those he has, and loses the life he possesses to the lives he does not. In this sense, he is an everyman. In most other senses, however, he is kind of a douche.