Synopses & Reviews
Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories brings together eighty-one brief texts spanning Robert Walser's career, from pieces conceived amid his early triumphs to later works written at a psychiatric clinic in Bern. Many were published in the feuilleton sections of newspapers during Walser's life; others were jotted down on slips of paper and all but forgotten. They are strung together like consciousness, idiosyncratic and vulnerable, genuine in their irony, wistful in their humor. Some dwell on childish or transient topics--carousels, the latest hairstyles, an ekphrasis of the illustrations in a picture book--others on the grand themes of nature, art, and love. But they remain conversational, almost lighter than air. Every emotion ventured takes on the weight of a sincerity that is imperiled as soon as it comes into contact with the outside world, which retains all of the novelty it had in childhood--and all of the danger.