My photo
Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Chapel Hill, Boston, Istanbul, Calgary, Washington DC, Austin, Tunis, Warszawa and counting

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You Are Not a Stranger Here

For the life of it I cannot remember where I stumbled over a review of Adam Haslett's You Are Noth a Stranger Here. It might have been a belated one for a French translation, it might have been a reference only in a review to his more recent novel. In either case Haslett fit right in with my recent self-obliged lecture of modern (as in young or not dead: Rabinovici, N'Sondé, Prigent or Cisneros all fit the bill).

He coincidently also fit right in with a discussion I recently had with a friend of mine concerning gay literature. While I had had read some homosexual authors of course (Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, Reynolds Price), virtually none of the books had actually dealt with the non-hetero world. Now the - unsurprising - truth is that this doesn't change much, in fact one would have to wonder whether something such as homosexual literature exists in the first place or whether it is not just a question of good or bad literature dealing with human lives and their complications. I would tend to favour the latter argument, but stand to be corrected as my take might simply be based on a lack of knowledge and naivety.

You Are Not a Strangere Here in any case freely mixes hetero and homo couples, stories taking place in the UK and the US. Yet, neither of this really matters nor means anything as Haslett regardless of the respective surroundings masterfully portrays humans in their suffering, in their self-delusions and (I would say) vanity. His nine stories are powerful if at times - almost reminiscent of Southern Gothic writing - grotesque and - on the surface in any case - devoid of happy endings. Haslett's writing style is extremely lucid and he wonderfully manages to convey his stories' sentiments and atmosphere across. A great new addition to my personal literary canon.

No comments: