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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Every Seventh Wave

Daniel Glattauer

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To purchase Every Seventh Wave

Title: Every Seventh Wave
Author: Daniel Glattauer
Genre: Novel
Written: 2009 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 222 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Every Seventh Wave - US
Every Seventh Wave - UK
Every Seventh Wave - Canada
Every Seventh Wave - India
La septième vague - France
Alle sieben Wellen - Deutschland
La settima onda - Italia
Cada siete olas - España
  • German title: Alle sieben Wellen
  • Translated by Katharina Bielenberg and Jamie Bulloch

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Our Assessment:

B- : a bit more compelling than its predecessor, for a while, but then collapses under the weight of the restrictions imposed by its form

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 7/2/2009 Sandra Kegel
The Guardian . 22/2/2013 Alfred Hickling
La Stampa . 23/12/2010 Luigi Forte
taz . 28/3/2009 Judith Luig

  From the Reviews:
  • "In Alle sieben Wellen ist dieser Zauber verflogen, schon weil Emmi und Leo, die sich nach einigen Monaten Kontaktsperre nun wieder schreiben, auch verabreden - und dieses Treffen tatsächlich zustande kommt. Zwar sind ihre E-Mails noch immer von lakonischer Schlagfertigkeit, aber der Reiz ihres Universums, das allein in der Imagination existierte, ist verblasst. Jetzt blicken wir in die ganz normalen Abgründe, die sich auftun, wenn eine verheiratete Frau darüber nachdenkt, ihre Familie für einen anderen zu verlassen, und ein Liebender die Konsequenzen dieses Handelns fürchtet." - Sandra Kegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Their continued attempts to write each other into bed become so wearing you long for a third voice to intervene which, thankfully, it does" - Alfred Hickling, The Guardian

  • "Soluzioni prevedibili e irrilevanti. Perché anche in questo libro la vera sostanza affatto virtuale si trasforma in realtà, e lo schermo del computer diventa lo spazio tangibile in cui si avvicendano la mente e il cuore di Emmi e Leo." - Luigi Forte, La Stampa

  • "An den Stellen, an denen Glattauers Roman die Untiefen der digitalen Kommunikation aufzeigt, ist er spannend. Leider verlässt er dieses Terrain allzu häufig und rettet sich in die ausufernden Dialoge, deren Stil bei Rosamunde Pilcher und deren Dramaturgie bei Samuel Beckett abgeschaut scheint. Immer wieder wird ein Ende gesetzt, immer wieder ein neuer Anfang gemacht. Jedes für sich wäre nicht so schlimm, zusammen aber wird man dieser Aufführung absurder Wiederholungs-Romantik bald überdrüssig. Dazu kommt noch die Sprache der beiden, die durch Klischees und leicht durchschaubare Effekte geprägt ist." - Judith Luig, taz

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:

       Daniel Glattauer's phenomenal success (and mind you, it was only its success that was phenomenal; nothing else about the book is), Love Virtually offered at least a rounded-off love story of sorts between e-mail correspondents Emmi and Leo; it also provided relatively clear closure, with Glattauer at least avoiding the simplistic happy end of them simply riding off together happily into the sunset. Success, however, can make for twitchy writing-fingers, and the steady flow of what must be huge sums of royalty-payments apparently proved to be a temptation that could not be resisted. Yes, Glattauer has penned a sequel, continuing a story that he'd already brought to a ... (at least in fictional terms) satisfying and very definite conclusion.
       Like its predecessor, Every Seventh Wave is an e-epistolary novel, presented entirely in the form of e-mails between Emmi and Leo. Emmi, you'll recall (or be reminded) is married to a considerably older man who brought his two now-teenage children into the marriage, while at the end of of Love Virtually Leo set off across the Atlantic for a two year stay in Boston -- complete with a new woman, Pamela.
       Every Seventh Wave begins exactly where Love Virtually ended -- well, three weeks later --, as Emmi again intermittently sends out e-mails to Leo's now out-of-commission e-mail address. This goes on for a couple of pages (with Emmi venting to the system manager, in the hopes that perhaps someone would read her missives and help her reach Leo); as in the earlier volume, there are a wide range of time-gaps between e-mails, as some are sent every ten seconds, others only after an interval of weeks or half a year. But the inevitable happens: Leo comes back, and he responds. And the fact that he didn't come close to holding out in Boston for two years pretty much tells you where all this is going .....
       One of the gimmicks in Love Virtually was that the two protagonists don't actually meet in person, but rather conduct their entire relationship 'virtually', but in Every Seventh Wave Glattauer ditches this conceit and has them meet up several times (though the novel itself still only consists of their e-mail correspondence). As such, it becomes a much more traditional romance-novel. Surprisingly, also: for much of the novel, it's also a much more compelling one. Some of the reasons for this are obvious: the implausible artifice that set Love Virtually into motion is missing, and from the beginning of this novel one can accept that there is an existing (and plausible) relationship between the two characters. The story is also helped by the fact that there are more interesting dynamics at work here: Emmi and Leo have already explored their relationship in considerable depth, but now it is not only Emmi's husband and her step-children that complicate matters but also Leo's romantic entanglement with Pamela. What they're hashing through is much more believable (for the most part) than most anything in Love Virtually was.
       Glattauer is not much of an artist, and most of what he does remains too simplistic, from Leo explaining to Emmi that she (and writing her these e-mails) is his diary(-substitute) to the explanation of the title (Emmi's idea, though Leo finds a reference to the same in, of all places, Henri Charrière's Papillon). [At least Glattauer acknowledges where he's stealing some of his ideas from; predictably inattentively, however, Charrière's name is misspelt in the German original [this review is based on the German original; I haven't seen the English translation].] In what one hopes is a nod to the rare reader who didn't bother reading Love Virtually Glattauer also chooses to reproduce one lengthy e-mail from that book -- one of the e-mails from a third party that one of the protagonists had not shared with the other yet --, whose inclusion the first time around was one of the biggest missteps in that novel; readers familiar with it presumably will just skip over the familiar material, but it's noteworthy that it isn't quite as out of place here, where more issues at least get better aired out.
       Glattauer does continue his habit of omission and surprise -- though he shows a surer hand with it here, with even Emmi's biggest surprise announcement, something she kept quiet about for about six months and reveals only near the end, reasonably effectively presented -- and he has tempered his incredibly annoying habit of over-reaction and pouty silences. Nevertheless, the limits of the form also stretch credulity, especially in those sections at the end with a rapid back and forth which any 21st-century citizen of any country would conduct via text-messages. Indeed, too much of the novel consists of material that does not realistically resemble e-mail correspondence. (And, while he still avoids the use of even a single emoticon, a smiley face -- one single one ... -- does make an appearance. No, it's almost hard to believe the author has ever even used e-mail for any sort of personal correspondence.)
       Ultimately, Glattauer abandons any literary aspirations and ties everything neatly together in a way that can satisfy only the most devoted Harlequin-romance reader, so pretty and happy and saccharine ..... One does close the book with a small sense of relief, however, as one can now be certain that no more sequels will follow.
       (Well, almost certain. We hope and pray .....)

- M.A.Orthofer, 8 February 2011

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Every Seventh Wave: Reviews: Other books by Daniel Glattauer under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Austrian author Daniel Glattauer was born in 1960.

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© 2011-2021 the complete review

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