Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"A Morning" - A Short Story by Robert Walser (1907, translated by Annette Wiesner)

Do you hate your job? Ever worked for a moronic petty tyrant or been surrounded by idiots?  Then "A Morning" is a story for you.

"A Morning" is the first story in a forthcoming collection of short works of fiction, many only one or two pages long, entitled Girlfriends, Ghosts and other Stories by Robert Walser to be published by The New York Review of books later this year.  I have been reading the work of Walser for about two years now.  His short stories, "Kleist in Thun" and "The Walk"  are high art.  It is said he was among Kafka's favorite writers.

Have you seen the newer version of the great Mel Brooks movie The Producer? Flash to the scene in the accounting office.   Any body who ever worked in an office doing work they hated with moronic overseerers will love this story.  Workers in back room operations and call centers for multinational corporations may cringe at Walser's description of Monday morning in a bank accounting office.

"There are mornings in cobbler’s workshops, mornings in streets and mornings in the mountains, which may well be the most beautiful thing in the world, but a bank morning gives us far more to consider. Let’s assume it’s Monday morning, surely the most morningish morning of the week, when the scent of Monday mornings is excellently disseminated in the bookkeeping departments of large banks.....The head of the department is a sack-fat man with a monstrous face on his trunk. The face presses itself directly onto the trunk without the help of a neck, is fiery red and appears to be constantly afloat. It’s ten minutes past eight, Hasler, the boss, scans the room with a few pointed glances to check if everyone is present. Two missing, and once again these are Helbling and Senn. At this crucial moment, the bookkeeper Senn, a haggard, thin man, shoots in, coughing and puffing. Hasler knows this cough; it’s simply a request for forgiveness."

Walser takes us through the agonizing slow day.  Our lead character looks at his watch at five minutes past eight and tells himself he will try not to look again until an hour has gone by.  We see the various annoying coworkers.  We hate the department head.  

This is a wonderful story.  I look forward to reading the full collection.

I was given a review copy of the book.

Mel u

No comments: