Meyer is the name of the main and only character of Patricia Görg’s latest novel, which is organised in twelve chapters, narrated in the present tense and the third person, and unfolds in the form of stream-of-consciousness. The reader follows Meyer on car rides and walks and watches TV with him. He is not what one could call a likeable character, his main characteristic being extreme miserliness. His wife – or the memory of her – stirs feelings within him, but here again it is not her absence that makes him sad but his loneliness.
The title of the book relates to the fact that in recurring scenes the ‘Y’ in Meyer’s name parts company with him (being replaced by an ‘i’) and becomes a living letter with a personality of its own. It accompanies him and rescues him when he is in danger.
Apart from the main plot detailing Meyer’s everyday life and the many dreamlike sequences, the reader will identify a third level. At regular intervals, the description of Meyer’s existence is interrupted by descriptions of natural phenomena in the style of a film documentary or a book of popular science about flora and fauna. At one point, for instance, there is a detailed description of a toad and its activities, implying a parallel between the day-to-day occupations of other forms of life and human behaviour, thus putting these into perspective: human action is as meaningless or meaningful as that of feeding, breathing, procreating animals. These scenes also show how human society lives right next to, but almost totally separated from, nature, which is an aspect of the social criticism addressed in the novel.
The book’s particular strength is its language, particularly when used in one of Görg’s brilliantly observed metaphors and descriptions of the everyday. When the author employs her linguistic talent to uncover the petty-bourgeois worries most people occupy themselves with, the novel becomes strikingly and memorably cynical. Here, then, is an experimental novel replete with good ideas, moments of brilliance and unconventional observations. A short and unusual treat, very much sui generis.
All recommendations from Spring 2008