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A MAN'S FATE by Klaus Merz
Translated by Tess Lewis
Woe to the middle-aged Swiss guy wanting to hike through the picturesque countryside. Robert Walser famously died in the snow while walking the grounds of his asylum. Ditto, Mr. Geiser from Max Frisch’s philosophical masterpiece, Man In the Holocene. whose recollections and musings turn out to be (if I read it correctly) the last moments of a fatal stroke while out in the wilderness. Now Thaler joins their ranks, a knowing nod by Swiss “master of the concise sentence”, Klaus Merz.
We know from the outset - a short plea from his wife - that Thaler is missing. The bulk of the tale, however, centres closely on the man himself; his failing career, his doubts, his need to start afresh. How he has come to this moment. Having escaped into the Alps to be alone with his thoughts, Thaler was hoping for clarity. But, much like those other middle-aged Swiss guys, fate had other ideas. Nature is fickle. It takes what it wants. As Thaler succumbs, we bear witness to a life considered and reconsidered until it is honed to an end that wasn’t even part of the equation. This is high wire European fiction at its finest.
A Man’s Fate by Klaus Merz (Tr. Tess Lewis)
In Stigmata of Bliss: Three Novellas
Seagull Books, 2016