The System of Vienna: From Heaven Street to Earth Mound Square

The System of Vienna From Heaven Street to Earth Mound Square An astonishing and fantastical autobiographical novel reminiscent of Italo Calvino and Laurence Sterne The System of Vienna details Jonke s travels through Vienna by streetcar reporting the bizarre a

  • Title: The System of Vienna: From Heaven Street to Earth Mound Square
  • Author: Gert Jonke Vincent Kling
  • ISBN: 9781564785503
  • Page: 413
  • Format: Paperback
  • An astonishing and fantastical autobiographical novel reminiscent of Italo Calvino and Laurence Sterne The System of Vienna details Jonke s travels through Vienna by streetcar, reporting the bizarre and frustrating encounters he experiences as he progresses and meanwhile moving not just from trolley stop to trolley stop, but through life as well, from innocence to disillusAn astonishing and fantastical autobiographical novel reminiscent of Italo Calvino and Laurence Sterne The System of Vienna details Jonke s travels through Vienna by streetcar, reporting the bizarre and frustrating encounters he experiences as he progresses and meanwhile moving not just from trolley stop to trolley stop, but through life as well, from innocence to disillusionment, birth to death Jonke meets a paranoiac fish wholesaler who believes he is directing all of Austrian politics from his little stall, a stamp collector in such deadly earnest he hopes to be appointed to a professorship in philately, and a compulsive talker who has developed a rigorous economic philosophy out of the most common objects to be found in a Vienna neighborhood Slowly increasing the comic and fantastic elements in his story until they overwhelm all pretense to autobiography culminating in a strangely touching love scene between Jonke and a caryatid The System of Vienna reminds us that the very act of describing a life turns it into fiction.

    • The System of Vienna: From Heaven Street to Earth Mound Square « Gert Jonke Vincent Kling
      413 Gert Jonke Vincent Kling
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      Posted by:Gert Jonke Vincent Kling
      Published :2019-06-19T14:03:43+00:00

    2 thoughts on “The System of Vienna: From Heaven Street to Earth Mound Square

    1. Gert Jonke was an Austrian poet and playwright.

    2. This book wins my prestigious "most ridiculous afterword of the 21st century" badge of honor. SoV is a nice collection of bits and pieces mostly about Vienna. Supposedly some of it is based on Jonke's life, but that seems pretty unlikely, except in the broadest, least informative sense. There is some trickiness to the writing, but it doesn't take a genius to work out. Most importantly, it's funny, smart, and just strange enough to be compelling. It's as if Beckett decided to take it easy for onc [...]

    3. Gert Jonke is one of the preeminent authors who can create an illusion that slyly seduces the reader and then dismantles it right before our eyes leaving us to wonder what part of the fiction was fiction. This may sound confusing or obtuse, and at times reading Jonke is just that - a confounding, vertiginous description of a story that turns the idea of story on its head. Jonke died this year and I wanted to explore his place among the philosophical literary surrealists that include some of my f [...]

    4. I had to give this up with only a few chapters left. It got tedious and sort of left me empty, when I really wanted to be filled with Vienna. It's experimental I guess, with the repetition (Gertrude Stein-ish?), which at first was amusing, but then I wanted to rush past it and get to the better stuff, which never really came. I'm sorry.Therein was to be sought the reason and the cause why things are sometimes, mostly sometimes, rather often, sometimes rather often, mostly sometimes rather often, [...]

    5. This novella reminded me a bit of Calvino in its terse style and bizarre images. Like the bulk of his work, this novel is musical, innovative, and difficult, not in a dusty academic way, but as a delightful puzzle, as a well-constructed argument, as a challenging game of chess. Innocence devolves into disillusion and the paranoid appear in unexpected moments. Beginning with a recounting of the narrator’s birth, and how his skin was tinged blue, the novel proceeds with descriptions of events th [...]

    6. In his Translator's Afterword, Vincent Kling describes The System of Vienna as a "parody-tribute to the art of autobiography as construct," which is a good way of putting it (109). The book starts with the story of the narrator's birth, as told to him by his mother: the language of it makes you aware of the story-as-story, the way lived experience gets remembered and told and re-told: "The story begins with a description of that cold winter night and how my mother allegedly started out not being [...]

    7. This is probably more like a 3.5. Definitely an acquired-taste kind of thing; if you're into crazy Austrians, then Jonke is for you. I'm mostly into them, but not fully, and so therefore -- 3.5. A sample of what you're in for, prose-wise: "Since that time I don't put flowers out onto the hallway window any more; I've given up on putting flowers onto the hallway window because it makes no sense to put flowers onto the hallway window, no, it's not just senseless, but impossible, for that matter, s [...]

    8. From "The Quarterly Conversation," via Powells:Most chapters in this autobiographical novella focus on a spot in Vienna, and they're recalled in sequence from the narrator's birth through adulthood as he meets odd people who strive to convey knowledge about politics, society, love, and human perception. Jonke's writing isn't difficult, though his sentences can stretch on into multi-page masterpieces, and he's a fan of word games and surreal imagery. But beneath these formal surfaces and experime [...]

    9. Did a "speed read" of this compact novel as I am on a river cruise in Europe and will be stopping in Vienna next week, so though this would be good. It is an existential, mind gaming read and at first I was annoyed by it (due to the lack of travelogue I was expecting) but then, as I read up on the author, I became intrigued with his style, and the thoughtful, almost mind bending scenarios he portrays, which all take place on streets in Vienna. He also writes the longest sentences I have ever rea [...]

    10. Loopy and beguiling, but I kept missing the beat. The structure, which seems such an important element, did not entrance me, alas. I read this while in Vienna, among the street names and cars mentioned here, an attempt at immersion. It didn't really work.

    11. A delightful little book that grows increasingly absurd with each vignette. Recommended to fans of Raymond Queneau and Samuel Beckett who are looking for something brief and whimsical.

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