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Daniel Kehlmann
You Should Have Left

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Review of You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Ross Benjamin.

 

A screenwriter, his wife Susanna and their 4 year old daughter Esther arrives in a holiday home for a stay in December. The screenwriter wants to get away so he can work on the follow up to his big film Besties with Besties 2. He has a notebook and the notebook and the text from the notebook is what we are reading.

 

This is a pretty short novel (110 pages in big type) but what Kehlmann (and Benjamin) has managed to achieved is a superb mysterious psyhcological thriller. There is a real sense of foreboding to the novel, reading it I was reminded of another novel I had this year, Fever Dream   by Samantha Schweblin in just the creation. While staying there, the sleep is affected and the layout of the house is ever changing.

 

Kehlmann's level of speech and tone is immense particularly with the wife, immaculate use by Kehlmann in tone for the screenwriters to condescend about Besties 2 being art, not art.

 

Kehlmann's other novels have been humourous, this time not so much so but he does fit some good bits of humour into the novel but the strength of this is the story and how Kehlmann tells it.  It has left me with a couple of wonderings and things to think about. I've reread the ending a couple of times since finishing the novel.

 

A short but very worthwhile read

 

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