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The Executor: A Comedy of Letters

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The Executor: A Comedy of Letters Cover

ISBN13: 9780151012688
ISBN10: 0151012687
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"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

Publisher Comments:

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?

Review:

"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.)

Review:

"Kruger ponders these heavy metafictional matters with grace, intelligence, and a poet's trim, lucid phrasing." Booklist

Review:

"[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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Grady Harp, April 3, 2008 (view all comments by Grady Harp)
'The public has no idea that writing is a disease,'

and that the writer who publishes is like the beggar who exhibits his sores.' These are but a few of the words from German expatriate Rudolf, a brilliant writer and teacher who has just committed suicide in Turin, Italy and has requested his best friend and former student roommate, the unnamed narrator, to be the executor of his literary estate. This relatively short novel is a finely wrought 'comedy of letters' - THE EXECUTOR - by German writer Michael Krüger and translated by John Hargraves. And while the subtitle suggests a comedy, the story is also a mystery and a meditation on literature, the life of a writer, and the inevitability of death with the associated question of what is fame and who will be remembered and for what reasons.

Rudolf was a cantankerous but brilliant writer, a man who was at odds with not only the literary and academic world, but equally out of sync with his personal life. Three women figured significantly in his time on earth: Elsa, his wife who wisely moved away for the sake of her own career; Marta, his secretary/confidant-bedmate; and Eva, his mistress from a distance. When Rudolf dies, the executor travels to Rudolf's Institute for Communications Research in Turin to gather all of Rudolf's writings and to search for the last great novel Rudolf left unfinished. The executor becomes at first fascinated with Rudolf's strange quarters (he lives on a rooftop terrace surrounded by strange plants and a menagerie of odd animals including his best 'friend', the old dog Caesar), with the bits of memorabilia that filled his study, and his encounters with Elsa (old and dying of cancer in the hospital), Marta (ready to take on the executor as lover), and Eva (whose writings are as strange and elusive as their author).

Over the course of the book the executor discovers many secrets about Rudolf and in attempting to piece together the life of an elusive literary genius, finds strange facts and turns and twists worthy of an Agatha Christie mystery: 'Once I had read his correspondence, I realized that Rudolf had been playing us all for fools. Put another way, he had betrayed all of us, and then, just in time, slipped away.' In the end it is the choice facing the executor as to whether or not to publish the strange magnum opus the executor discovers that brings this exhilarating novel to a surprising end.

Krüger is a sculptor of words and mixes philosophy with narrative story as well as any writer today. The references to literature tug at the mind to keep up with the thoughts and patterns of the friendship between Rudolf and the executor: moments of turning to the dictionary can slow the reading but enhance the appreciation of Krüger's writing. This is a novel that will appeal to lovers of fine writing, but it is also a very entertaining tale of a strange and fascinating friendship between two men of letters. Highly recommended.

Grady Harp
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780151012688
Subtitle:
A Comedy of Letters
Author:
Kruger, Michael
Translator:
Hargraves, John
Author:
Hargraves, John
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
February 2008
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 0.72 lb

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Executor: A Comedy of Letters Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$2.48 In Stock
Product details 192 pages Harcourt - English 9780151012688 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.)
"Review A Day" by , "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..." (read the entire New York Review of Books review)
"Review" by , "Kruger ponders these heavy metafictional matters with grace, intelligence, and a poet's trim, lucid phrasing."
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "A bit intellectual and rarefied, much like Rudolf's work is reputed to be."
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