Well, he’s done it again, Mr. Koch has. Written a novel which pinned me to my green wing back chair for the better part of the past two days. This time, the details are far more gruesome than in The Dinner. A general practitioner named Marc Schlosser is narrating the story, a story which begins and ends in nearly the same place: with a famous actor named Ralph Meier taking a lethal dose to incur his own death. In between him preparing to swallow it, and actually downing the shot glass, is the whole complicated story.
The story involves Marc’s family, and Marc himself, over the vacation they took one summer. Ralph and his wife Judith invited the Schlossers to their summer house with a swimming pool. And because Marc is infatuated with Judith, he accepts. It is the fatal flaw which brings irrevocable damage to the whole family. Both families, in fact. But, not because Marc and Judith are attracted to each other.
No. When something happens to Marc’s eldest daughter, while the fathers are drinking and carousing on the beach not a mile from where she has gone, the suspicions are heightened to an unbearable point. Who is to blame for the incident? How will it be resolved?
I found it fascinating that Herman Koch included a problem with Marc’s eye the very night of the tragedy. Something has landed in it, something that makes it impossible for him to open his eye fully, or keep it open for long. Soon his eye is swollen shut, red and lumpy. He must eventually lance it to release the pressure of infection. Could it possibly refer to the admonition in the New Testament to get the plank out of your own eye before trying to remove the speck in someone else’s? For me, this is exactly the case.
Because if anyone is innocent, it is not Marc himself.
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