Wonderful, Wonderful Times

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Four bored teenagers plan a brutal gratuitous act as an expression of contempt for the mediocrity of everyday life in Austria.
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Overview

Four bored teenagers plan a brutal gratuitous act as an expression of contempt for the mediocrity of everyday life in Austria.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A dozen years after the collapse of the Third Reich, four adolescents commit a gratuitously violent assault and robbery in a Viennese park. So begins Jelinek's ( The Piano Teacher ) brilliant new novel, an unrelenting and horrifying exploration of postwar Austria, where the sins of the fathers are visited upon a new generation too disaffected to understand the source of its inarticulate rage. Jelinek's prose is breathless and incisive as she paints psychological portraits of her characters in swift, sure brushstrokes. Among the group of young criminals in the park are Rainer Witkowski, a liar and a coward who fancies himself a poet, an intellectual and a leader of men, and his twin sister, Anna, who responds to rejection by losing her ability to speak. Their father, Otto, is a brutally sadistic, crippled ex-Nazi who takes pornographic pictures of his battered wife and whose sexual abilities are failing now that the aphrodisiac of Auschwitz is only a dim memory. He is unrepentant; history, he believes, has forgiven him. The son cites Sartre's proposition that history does not exist. But it does, and it repeats itself here in an explosion of sickeningly familiar violence. (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781852421687
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail Publishing Ltd
  • Publication date: 7/1/1990
  • Series: Masks Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2004

    Masterfully written fut ultimately unapealing

    'Wonderful, Wonderful Times' is a hard in-your-face satire about hatred in postwar Austria. The storyline follows four distraught teenagers leadered by Rainer, who feels himself an artist and inspired leader. The other members are Sophie, the rich burgeouis daughter who is appealed to the 'dark and filty', Rainer's sister Anna, a promiscous psicologicaly mute girl, and Hans a working class simple minded type recruited as the hands-on-guy of the group. Both Rainer and Hans are in love with Sophie who teases and manipulates both, while Anna, Hans real lover, feels dejected. As they discussions of how to play criminals advance, they decide to begin assaulting with violence a pedestrian in a Viena park. We also take a glimpse of the previous generation in both Anna and Rainer parents (a disgusting lacivious ex-nazi and his diminished batered wife) and Hans (a comunist home typist that gives her son endless lectures on working class ethics). The characters are very well drawn, with psychological depth (except maybe the most complex one, Sophie). Jelinek's portrait of Austria is terrible, and full of hatred and intelectual explanations. One that makes reading tiresome, since there's a point where you start asking yourself why am I reading this long story of unapealing characters doing unapealing actions in a dreadful environment. You really don't care what happens to them or why they are acting like scum.

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