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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Windy berättar

by
Lars Gustafsson


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author



Title: Windy berättar
Author: Lars Gustafsson
Genre: Novel
Written: 1999
Length: 125 pages
Original in: Swedish
Availability: La Coiffeuse - France
. Windy erzählt - Deutschland
  • Om sitt liv, om de försvunna och om dem som ännu finns kvar
  • Windy berättar has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting idea and presentation, not entirely successful

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 6/11/1999 Pia Reinacher
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 18/3/2000 Andrea Köhler
Die Welt . 13/11/1999 Hans-Harald Müller


  From the Reviews:
  • "Es sind die letzten Fragen, die Lars Gustafsson seiner Coiffeuse aufbürdet, die letzten Dinge, die er seiner so leichthin erzählten Geschichte einschreibt, und es ist diese irritierende Grundierung des Oberflächlichen, flüchtig Hingeworfenen mit dem Existenziellen, welche die Faszination seiner Geschichte ausmacht." - Pia Reinacher, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Technisch gut -- sonst schwach. Bei Gustafsson ist eine künstlerische Windstille eingetreten." - Hans-Harald Müller, Die Welt

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Windy is a hairdresser in Austin, Texas. In Windy berättar hers is the only voice: she narrates the story -- but instead of addressing the reader she is speaking to one of her customers, a professor who regularly comes in, like many from the local university, to get his hair cut there. He is a presence: some of what she says is in response to what are obviously interjections or reactions from him, but these are not recorded. Even if the conversation isn't entirely (only overwhelmingly) one-sided, the presentations is.
       Windy appears to be a common man-corrective for the otherwise fairly dry academic world her customers come from; perhaps that is why they enjoy her conversation. She knows several of the high and mighty in town, including the university dean, as well as Judge Caldwell (who was the central character in one of Gustafsson's earlier Austin novels, The Tale of a Dog), but she barely gets by in life, living in a trailer park with her two daughters (who have two different fathers).
       Windy also claims some unusual abilities, including a sense of what the future holds (telling the professor, among other things, that he's in for a Nobel Prize). It's not entirely idle chatter: some of what she says suggests she does have some rather special abilities -- though there's always room for doubt about the exact nature of her abilities (she says it's based on logic, but admits it's her own special brand, and not what's usually understood by 'logic'). Still, there is clearly some sort of aura about her, as, for example, she is the only things that went entirely unharmed as a tornado ripped through the trailer park she lived in.
       Windy babbles about all sorts of things -- including, as the subtitle suggests, her life, those who disappeared, and those who are still here. Several university figures come up repeatedly, as does the judge and a Philip K.Dick-like science-fiction author named Winnicott.
       It's roundabout talk, ranging from the mundane and immediate (does he like how she's cutting her hair ?) to the philosophical. And it is, ultimately, a philosophical-speculative book, concerned with the larger questions (death prominent among them) -- and addresses them in this unusual manner, not from the mouth of an innocent, but of a person given special abilities but without the formal education to express these in the more abstract manner the professor would.
       The approach Gustafsson takes is effective insofar as by not allowing any other voice to be heard the focus is entirely on this one individual. In real life it would barely be a dialogue, but Gustafsson doesn't even give voice to the professors small contributions: only a single voice is heard, her echoing-board silent to the reader. But, because she is active (cutting hair) and there are everyday interruptions (telephone calls, disturbances), it is more than an inner monologue.
       The story -- and the presentation of the ideas -- is interesting, but not entirely compelling. Windy is, ultimately, too much a figure of convenience (and of artifice). Still: an interesting mind at work here.

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Links:

Windy berättar: Reviews: Lars Gustafsson: Other books by Lars Gustafsson under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Swedish author Lars Gustafsson was born in 1936. He divides his time between his native Vasteras and the University of Texas, Austin, where he is a professor.

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