A series of three loosely connected short stories, Pasteurgasse 4, täglich is the debut work of fiction of Andrea Landfried. A suspenseful and highly psychological read, it paints portraits of three relationships between women of different generations, examining themes of female desire, alienation and social expectation.
Landfried varies the structure of each section, adopting both first- and third-person narrators, and arranging the middle story into 114 numbered vignettes. Her language is not overly complex, allowing the characters and their emotions to come to the fore. A certain tension is apparent throughout each story as the characters meet one another and grapple with desires that often challenge society’s expectations, while a sequence of subtle clues creates connections between each story. Only towards the end of the book does it become apparent that Pasteurgasse 4, täglich may actually relate three different episodes from the same woman’s life.
The first story, which shares its title with the book, is the account of a love affair between an unnamed German music student and an older married woman, Ruth. They first meet at Vienna’s Leopold Museum, and every afternoon for the next two years spend exactly two and a half hours together. In the second section, also a first-person narrative, a 45-year-old German mother of two, Sarah, falls in love with Angela, an 80-year-old widow living in Berkeley, California. Sarah accompanies her husband on a trip abroad; the story chronicles the growing distance in their relationship. Finally, a third-person narrative recounts the troubled relationship between a young woman, Sarah, and her psychotherapist, Dr Selberg. Despite being only forty-eight pages long, this story is the most formally varied, covering a period of several years and many events in Sarah’s life, as well as an epistolary exchange between her and Dr Selberg.
The non-chronological, fractured narrative adds weight and depth to the psychological tensions explored by Landfried, with silence used as a powerful tool that often speaks volumes. While comparisons could be drawn with Dorothy Bussy and Michelle Tea, Landfried is a distinctive new voice in German literature. Relatable, nuanced and compelling, Pasteurgasse 4, täglich offers a fresh and timely addition to the growing body of queer narratives.
Read more on the publisher’s website here: https://www.fva.de/Pasteurgasse-4-taeglich.html