This collection of stories translated from the original German of the Swiss writer Adelheid Duvanel (1936-1996) is preceded by an introductory biographical essay that should help the reader to understand the connections between Duvanel's life and her subjects. The apparent lack of love in the lives of all her subjects can be traced back to Duvanel's extremely complex and chaotic life. The subjects of Duvanel's stories, which were mostly women or children, included single mothers without financial or emotional support from the biological father; elderly, lonely women; illegitimate children; men and women afraid of relationships. These short stories deal with one situation, presented with (sometimes surreal) imagery that seems to reside in the unconscious: yet an undercurrent of wry Neo-Expressionism. Instead of dialogue we read the thoughts and dreams of a subject, thanks to imagery reminiscent of the art of Max Ernst. In fact, several stories are nothing but the retelling of a dream.
Patricia H. Stanley is Professor, The Florida State University.