Daniel Glattauer: Forever Yours (2014) – Ewig Dein (2012)

Ewig DeinForever Yours

I’ve read two of Glattauer’s books Love Virtually and Every Seventh Wave and enjoyed them both. When Forever Yours – Ewig Dein came out two years ago I got it but didn’t get a chance to read it. Now that the English translation just came out, seemed to be a good time to pick it up. As you can see I added the German and the English cover. I find the German one so much better.

What a peculiar book. Not so much because of the story but because of the way it was written. The distanced and highly ironic style that Glattauer uses here made me wonder “What is this meant to be?”. I still have no clue. Is this a psychological thriller? A satirical analysis of a relationship that goes more than a little wrong? The combination of the two? A mix between parody and realistic story?

It starts simple enough. Judith, a 30-something single woman, owner of a shop that sells lamps, located in the heart of Vienna, meets Hannes while shopping. He accidentally tramples on her heel. Not exactly a great way to chat someone up but Judith accepts to meet him for a coffee. Hannes is a 42-year-old architect, specialized in designing pharmacies.

At no time does the reader get the impression that Judith fancies Hannes but he seems to be so besotted with her that she sort of slides into a relationship with him. Mostly because she’s flattered. While she’s not into him, she’s into the way he sees her. In spite of this, she soon feels suffocated and tries to end it. That proves much more difficult than she would ever have imagined.

At this point the book turns into an accurate and scary depiction of stalking. Hannes doesn’t let go. He follows her, smothers her with signs of affection, and, slowly Judith starts to lose her mind.

The book doesn’t end there and many twists and turns follow until the chilling ending.

It’s very rare that I like the beginning and the end of a book but not the middle. Many of the chapters that Glattauer calls phases are too far-fetched and far from realistic. I also found many of Judith reactions questionable. And at the same time the way Glattauer wrote about this made me question his intentions.

This isn’t Glattauer’s best book, it’s even dubious at times. It was still readable, had a lot of pertinent observations and the end was good. It’s a rather unusual psychological thriller, but for me it was rather a disappointment. I’m not sure stalking should be the topic of a parody.

Daniel Glattauer: Every Seventh Wave (2011) aka Alle sieben Wellen (2009) The Sequel of Love Virtually

Every Seventh Wave

A while back I wrote about Daniel Glattauer’s Love Virtually which has been released meanwhile. I just saw that the sequel, Every Seventh Wave,  will be published this year as well. Usually I include the amazon blurb at the beginning of my posts but this one  contains too many spoilers of the first book.

Like its predecessor, I have read Alle sieben Wellen when it came out in Germany. For all those who like Love Virtually, they can look forward to a sequel that is very close to the first book. The story of Leo and Emmi, their e-mail exchange goes on. More passionate and more intense than before. And still they ask the same questions. Should they meet or should they not? To the somewhat playful tone of the first book Glattauer adds a bit of a darker undertone. I cannot say too much or it would be a spoiler.

Even though I didn’t like the idea of a sequel at all and if I had had something to say, it wouldn’t have been written but since it was and I liked the tone of the first book, I had to read this one as well. And it isn’t disappointing. It is as witty, charming, thought-provoking and enjoyable as the first.

All those who thought that Emmi and Leo’s story shouldn’t finish like it did in Love Virtually will enjoy this book. All those who loved the style of Glattauer the first time, will enjoy this as well. Although Love Virtually can be read on its own, this one can not. If you want to read Glattauer, you should start with the first one.

I have no problem with the translation of the title this time, it is pretty literal but I still like the German cover better.

The Austrian author Daniel Glattauer has written quite a few books that have been successful in Germany and other German speaking countries. Like so very often none of them has been translated. Should you read German you can find more information on his website.

Daniel Glattauer: Love Virtually (2011) aka Gut gegen Nordwind (2006) A German Novel in E-Mails

Love Virtually

“Write to me, Emmi. Writing is like kissing, but without lips. Writing is kissing with the mind.’

It begins by chance: Leo receives emails in error from an unknown woman called Emmi. Being polite he replies, and Emmi writes back. A few brief exchanges are all it takes to spark a mutual interest in each other, and soon Emmi and Leo are sharing their innermost secrets and longings. The erotic tension simmers, and it seems only a matter of time before they will meet in person. But they keep putting off the moment – the prospect both excites and unsettles them. And after all, Emmi is happily married. Will their feelings for each other survive the test of a real-life encounter?

And if so, what then?

Love Virtually is a funny, fast-paced and utterly absorbing novel, with plenty of twists and turns, about a love affair conducted entirely by email.

I have already read Love Virtually because the original came out in Germany in 2006. I even read it in hardback, a rare thing, as I was so curious to find out what the hype was all about. I must say, I have not often been this engrossed. You start it, you read and you do not stop before the end. After, let’s say, two –  three pages you will have forgotten that this is a novel, you will be sure that you are reading a real e-mail exchange between two people. That is quite an achievement. I am really  pleased to see that Glattauer’s book will be published in English in 2011.

Emmi writes accidentally to Leo and they keep on writing to each other because each one likes the tone of the other’s e-mails. And because they both imagine each other. Without knowing each other they develop crushes. There is only one little complication. Emmi is happily married. It seems only natural she does not want to meet Leo. What if he was anything like the man she imagines? Still she can’t stop writing. They tease and flirt and exchange their hidden dreams and wishes and get to know each other better and better. They also arrange a date without really meeting each other. They just both know that they are at the same restaurant at the same time. Later they compare their impressions and try to find out if they  did recognize each other.

Leo and Emmi are both  intellectuals. This is important to know, as that determines the nature of their exchange. Even though they tease and flirt, they philosophize and analyze a great deal too.

If you want to find out if they really meet you have to read the novel. Daniel Glattauer wrote a sequel (Alle sieben Wellen 2009) that has been published a while back. It is also very good but I would have preferred if he had stopped after Gut gegen Nordwind. The ending of Love Virtually is very special. The sequel spoils it.

I think the idea of having a crush on someone you only know by e-mail (I know the movie with Meg Ryan, but Love Virtually is very different) is interesting and Glattauer provides an in-depth analysis of this premiss. Love Virtually is highly entertaining but still deep. Personally I like epistolary novels a great deal. This is just a variation on the same theme.

A word on the English marketing of this book. Just have a look at the German cover. Don’t you think it looks much nicer? I can understand that the title was problematic. Gut gegen Nordwind would have to be translated as “Good against the North wind”. This is far more poetical than Love Virtually but does this mean anything outside of Germany? The North wind is a bit like the Californian Santa Ana winds, but cold, very cold. He does also carry a nervous energy and is a bit depressing. I must admit, I am not sure I would have bought the book with the title Love Virtually and such a cover. What do you think about the covers and the titles?