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The Executor: A Comedy of Lettersby Michael Kruger
"Michael Krüger is a highly experienced man of letters, being a publisher and editor, a novelist, and a renowned poet. He is the head of the distinguished German publishing house Carl Hanser Verlag, edits the literary magazine Akzente, and has published three novels and a collection of poems in English translation. If one is to judge by The Executor....the rigors of his day job have soured him somewhat on the business of writing in general and of fiction writing in particular..." John Banville, The New York Review of Books (read the entire New York Review of Books review)
Synopses & Reviews
Following the sudden death of his best friend, the narrator of The Executor is called to Turin to resolve the will and literary estate of this famous writer and professor. It is a considerable undertaking, as Rudolf had amassed not only a rather extensive collection of house pets (a goose, several ducks, tortoises, and a peacock — to say nothing of Caesar, the old dog), but also a voluminous library of books and research materials. Somewhere under this mountain of papers lies Rudolf's magnum opus, a work so great that the writer maintained it would be the "world's last novel."
But the narrator has other obstacles to overcome: The trio of women Rudolf left behind — the widow, the secretary, and the lover — are all looking for something the narrator isn't sure he can give. If he had known what awaited him in Turin, would he ever have gone?
"A meditation on literary friendship, the latest from Kruger (The Cello Player) opens out onto the mysteries and obfuscations endemic to art making. With the suicide of well-known novelist Rudolf, the nameless male narrator, a close friend of Rudolf's since college, arrives at Rudolf's university-owned palazzo in Turin, Italy, to sort out Rudolf's literary legacy. Ensconced in Rudolf's dusty, disorganized office; bullied by Rudolf's former assistant and probable lover, Marta; concerned for Rudolf's hospitalized widow; and worried by a menagerie of exotic animals Rudolf kept on the palazzo's terrace, the grieving, beleaguered narrator sifts through Rudolf's voluminous papers and correspondence, all the while wryly reflecting on how Rudolf and the narrator together formed their tastes, had their loves and did their work. Yet like all great friendships, this one turns out to have its secrets, and as the narrator attempts to piece together Rudolf's unfinished last work, the novel becomes a beguiling meditation on the nature of authorship and the limits of how much one artist can know another. Kruger, head of the German publishing house Hanser Verlag and editor of the journal Akzente, marshals a tone at once playful and elegiac, perfectly capturing the narrator's loss and his remaining love for life and for work." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Kruger ponders these heavy metafictional matters with grace, intelligence, and a poet's trim, lucid phrasing." Booklist
"[A] fine and thought-provoking entertainment....This is a book that not only lives up to its subtitle but also reminds us that between the dramatic poles of slapstick and black comedy is a broad, gray area where the absurd holds unsettling sway." Los Angeles Times
"Although he treats literary theory, a topic unlikely to inspire most American readers, like any good mystery writer Krüger is skilled at revealing the right information at the right time....Ultimately, the novel feels like a long joke." Library Journal
"A bit intellectual and rarefied, much like Rudolf's work is reputed to be." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Michael Kruger's successful career as a poet and novelist has been paralleled by his long and distinguished record as head of the German publishing house Hanser Verlag and editor of the influential journal Akzente. He recently received the Mörike Prize, one of Germany's most prestigious awards, in recognition of his contribution to both sides of the trade. He lives in Munich.
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