A German Picturesque by Jason Schwartz

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A German Picturesque by Jason Schwartz

14.99

Haunting in their tone, brilliant in their images – very like fantastic presences moving across glass – the twenty-one fictions in this startling debut collection seem both inexplicably familiar and like no writing we have seen before.

A masterclass in minimalist fiction, the opening story of this exquisite book leads us through a kaleidoscopic series of thoughts and memories around the act of writing a letter. Another, an intricately structured document of documents – household inventories, daily calendars, property deeds, an announcement – suggests the reality overflowing these mundane markers of our lives. Yet another traces the histories of five artifacts, while at the same time slyly assembling five miniature biographical portraits.

128 pages, September 2017

Available in the UK only

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“The modest size of Jason Schwartz’s first collection is misleading, since his fiction turns out to be grandly intrepid. Schwartz writes of family events and historical tragedies, evoking a nameless consciousness whirling through remembered facts, letters, memories – and he does so by recording not the narrative events but the traces of them that pulse within the words and memories and objects left behind ... Unlike much so-called experimental fiction, Schwartz’s work contains genuine passion and invention – and an enormous appetite for challenging himself and his audience.” The New York Times

“Reading the 21 runelike stories that comprise Schwartz’s debut collection is a bit like eavesdropping: you may not follow the conversation, but you’ll certainly overhear something interesting. In these fragmentary, oblique vignettes, unnamed narrators mention mostly unnamed characters, and the relationships among the various theys, shes and hes are often unspecified. Replacing the structure of narrative are some of the pleasures of poetry ... The title story opens: 'The goblet, to begin with.' It continues with descriptions of a flag, a confession, a will, a map. The heart of the tale lies in oblique references to a murder in an earlier century, and the possible massacre of a family. In the mysteriously titled 'Killies,' maiden sisters holiday too peacefully in Spain ... Clearly this collection is not for those who want a take-charge narrator, but it may intrigue those who prefer their fiction through a glass darkly.” Publishers Weekly

"Schwartz’s first book lies somewhere between short stories and poetry. His stories, sometimes only a page in length, investigate such events as a train ride, a visit to a garrison, or a wedding through an impressionistic stream of consciousness. Often, an object will evoke a flow of ideas; for example, the image of a postage stamp leads to an image of slaughter. Words are spare but significant, and they echo long after being read. Collections of experimental fiction will want this volume.” Library Journal