Process of Elimination


I have been reading 18 Stories by Heinrich Böll. The stories are wonderful. All crisply told with a blunt freshness of life at it’s reduced absurdity.

When the passing truck provides the streetcar window with a backround for a moment, I check up on the expression on my face: isn’t it perhaps too pensive, almost verging on the sorrowful? I assiduously erase the remnants of brooding and do my best to give my face the expression I want it to wear: neither reserved nor familiar, neither superficial nor profound.”  – Heinrich Boll, The Thrower-away

I came across this book through the house of mirrors that is the internet, but I am always asking myself how I choose? I wonder if choosing books- a little like life, is not actually, more clearly, about what I don’t choose. The books on the shelf can pretend I didn’t not choose them – I simply chose another, maybe I will choose them next time, maybe someday one of them will fall into my hands in a perfect moment, who knows? But in truth: they know time is precious.

From their vantage on the shelves,  they can see that our lives are often formed by the things we don’t choose. We are not so proactive as we would like to believe. The shape of our stories are more of  a carving away, until one day we are fully formed and we wonder how the hell that happened? I suppose we can ask the books…

“…and it struck him that old people were wrong to talk about the gaiety of youth: when you were young, everything was serious and difficult, and nobody helped you,”   – And there was the evening and the morning…


12 responses to “Process of Elimination

  1. I went through a German literature phase years ago when i first started writing, but more the stuff of Peter Handke and Stefan Zweig. But my first was the tindrum because of the film, which ws such a good introduction to German fiction. Short stories have been out of fashion for a long time, but seem to be making a revival with everyone too busy to concentrate on novels. cheers

  2. This is a beautiful post. I actually haven’t read anything by Böll, but your recommendation is enough to make me want to check out his works.

  3. Merleau-Ponty, again:

    But what if language expresses as much by what is between words as by the words themselves? By that which it does not “say” as by what it “says”?

  4. Both his life and writing mean a lot to me. A fantastic writer and human.

    • He is a fantastic writer. I had wanted to read What’s to Become of the Boy – that was the book I was pursuing…I had read a few sentences and immediately knew I was his reader. Sadly, I could not find it in the library system in my state, maybe someday…

  5. It’s very good. It must have been the first thing I read of his. I also think very highly of Billiards at Half-Past Nine, The Clown, and The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum. I’ve yet to read the 18 Stories you talk of or Group Portrait with Lady but would really like to.

  6. Pingback: The Howling Void | so very very

  7. Pingback: Waking Inclination | so very very

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s