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My Year in the No-Man'S-Bay Hardcover – August, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T); 1st American ed edition (August 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374217556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374217556
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,770,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"There was one time in my life when I experienced metamorphosis."

A novel that begins with a sentence like this and also features a main character named Gregor obviously has serious ambitions from the get-go. But readers of Austrian writer Peter Handke's previous fiction would expect nothing less. Handke, author of The Left-Handed Woman, Slow Homecoming, and Repetition was also responsible for co-writing German director Wim Wenders's magical exploration of fallen angels, Wings of Desire. In all of his work, plot and character are subsumed by concerns about language, meaning, and the process of reflection. My Year in the No-Man's-Bay is another example of Handke's personal obsessions and his unorthodox literary style. The plot, such as it is, features a middle-aged writer named Gregor K. (a nod to Kafka's famous protagonist in The Metamorphosis) who lives in a Paris suburb. Gregor sets out to write about the metamorphosis he himself experienced 20 years earlier from active artist--a molder of fiction--to passive chronicler of the world as he sees it. As he remembers his various love affairs, his failed marriage, his relationship with his children, he also struggles with the shape of the current novel he is working on. Not a book to be picked up casually, My Year in No-Man's-Bay is demanding, abstract, and so intensely introspective as to be occasionally claustrophobic. Still, readers interested in this kind of meta-fiction will no doubt find much to admire in Handke's novel.

From Publishers Weekly

"Almost fifty-six now, I still do not know myself," explains the brooding narrator of Austrian novelist/essayist Handke's (The Jukebox and Other Essays on Storytelling) sinuously beautiful latest novel, a meditation on two decades of a writer's life culminating in a solitary, sobering year of reckoning. Most recently, Handke wrote a highly subjective look at the turmoil in the former Yugoslavia (A Journey to Rivers); here, he returns to the often stiflingly solipsistic terrain familiar to his readers with an attempt (admittedly failed) at a "Germanic epic," a travel work about journeys of discovery. Finding the right place to live seems to be the major preoccupation of his narrator, an ex-lawyer who is fascinated by Roman law and the poetry of Friedrich H?lderlin. Ensconced on and off over two decades in a house in a back-bay suburb of Paris, he has "renounced a life of action," content now to act merely as an observer, keeping the "chronicler's distance." He records discreet stories of his friends, referred to only by their descriptive namesA"the singer," "the reader," "my son," etc.Ayet finds that in the end he himself is the most interesting character in his narrative. Deserted periodically by his elusive wife ("the woman from Catalonia") and distrusted by his son ("the child"), he spends the final year (1999) taking walks, picking mushrooms and composing a suitable narrative. Despite attaining moments of stylistic lucidity worthy of Montaigne, the narrator more often comes across as gloomy and hostile. Nonetheless, numerous trenchant moments of insight make this work intriguing and provocative. Winston's translation is impeccable.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Austrian novelist, playwright and screenwriter Peter Handke is someone who seeks to alienate his work from the artificiality of life; in doing so his work, itself, becomes rather alienating.
Handke first gained attention in 1966 when he denounced Günter Grass and Heinrich Boll for, as he saw it, compromising the novel by making it a vehicle for social criticism. Like many French writers, Handke believed that novelists should register conscious experiences only, and then render them as austerely as possible.
Handke is a novelist who never creates a character. Instead, he folds his characters into his prose. He never constructs a real plot. Instead, he chronicles the very plotlessness (and pointlessness) of life. Handke finally decided that writers had their own personal stories to tell rather than telling those of the characters they made up. His novel, The Afternoon of a Writer told the story of, the afternoon of a writer. No more, no less.
My Year in the No-Man's Bay is the sequel to The Afternoon of a Writer. Although many readers may find this novel's content to be less-than-stimulating, I don't think anyone could say its structure is less-than-breathtaking.
The protagonist is a fifty-five year old writer who attempts to recall a year long artistic and spiritual metamorphosis. This writer is poetically named Gregor Keuschnig, and is known only as Gregor K. (Those who are at all familiar with Handke will immediately recognize this as a jab at Kafka, one of Handke's least favorite authors.) Gregor, who is obviously Handke's alter-ego, has grown disenchanted with both city life and country life and has moved to the suburbs of Paris instead. The city and the countryside, says Gregor, have been much overused as the setting in more traditional novels.
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