“In 1970, the German writer Arno Schmidt published his magnum opus, a novel called ‘Zettel’s Traum.’ Its narrator is Dan Pagenstecher, an aging writer who lives in the fictional village of Ödingen and is an expert on Edgar Allan Poe. Dan is visited by a married couple, Paul and Wilma Jacobi, who are translating Poe into German. They have come seeking Dan’s expertise on Poe, and they have brought along their sixteen-year-old daughter, Franziska. She and Dan flirt intensely. The novel, which takes place over twenty-four hours, consists mostly of conversations between the characters. It is thirteen hundred and thirty-four pages long.”
I’m a sucker for big, complicated novels. I’ve read Finnegans Wake – all the way through – and I’ve read Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) several times in French. However, I’ve only been able to finish a couple of books by Thomas Pynchon, and never got very far in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. I think I admire the tenacity of an author who works in such a broad scope, but it’s very hard to make a book like this work.
When I read about this book, called Bottom’s Dream, I ordered it immediately. It’s a huge book, with very large pages, and it weighs about twenty pounds. I’ll try to start reading it when I get a table that can hold it at the right height. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)