One Inside the Other
By Monique Schwitter
It’s evening. The two children are in bed, and in the next room her husband Philipp is going through the week’s emails. The narrator is sitting at her desk – and suddenly feels compelled to look for Peter on the internet: Peter, the name of her first boyfriend. What had become of him? She finds out that he died, several years before, by his own hand. So now she wants to know more: it was a long time ago when they were together but suddenly it again feels like the present. ʺYou don’t choose whom you fall in love withʺ, as her grandma used to say.
In her novel One Inside the Other, Monique Schwitter’s protagonist investigates her life. Having worked as a dramatist and theatre director, she now attempts to lay bare her own life story; in the process, twelve male characters appear, men she’s met over that lifetime. Some of them are still linked to her, and all are still around. They have names, which distantly recall those of the twelve Apostles.
This is still, though, a novel about the real world, and by the end, past and present become almost indistinguishable. ʺLove comes and love goes. One merges into the other, one love inside the other.ʺ Monique Schwitter describes this complex tangle of love in a way that is pacy, exciting and entertaining.
Praise for the novel
“Her prose works so well precisely because she leaves lacunae: these are the fundament of good literature. Her characters are well aware why they keep silent even when they’re speak-ing.” STEFAN GMÜNDER
Excerpt translated by Michael Hofmann
When you start googling your first boyfriend or girlfriend one day, that’s a response to the sounds of tapping you hear as you go to sleep, and, more loudly, when you look in the mirror first thing in the morning, at the sight of the deep vertical crease between your eyebrows. All attempts to find the source of the noise – is it inside, outside, from the attic, under your skull – are futile.
It crops up more and more frequently, more and more inexplicably, here it is again late this Friday evening in January. As usual at the end of the week in kindergarten, the children were exhausted and difficult; they squabbled all evening, took turns crying, and finally, when it was bedtime, they screamed. At last they’re asleep, for a brief moment there’s silence, even the dog is lying there on his rug under my desk, I stare at his black fur, watch his ribs rise and fall, I take a deep breath – and there’s the tapping at full volume. Brief taps first, then longer, heavier blows.
I transcribe it into dots and dashes in my notebook. It’s not as though I knew Morse code, but I pore over the table until something close to sense comes out. Close. SMOKE. TIME. CHILD. Well. (Among the rejected alternatives are LXCH. TDIA. CRNE or ETINAKSI. MESA. NDKI. I don’t know the language in which those exist as words, so I have to plump for Smoke, Time, Child.) Silence. My husband, I’m assuming, is in his room, going through the week’s emails, as he does every Friday, before coming out a little before midnight and calling out: It’s the weekend! For a while now we thought we should do something together. No idea what. Sometimes he has no time, sometimes it’s me. Smoketimechild! Flits through my brain. I shut my notebook, shut the document file, and open a new search window. I write the name of my first boyfriend, Peter -.
I’m perfectly prepared to find nothing, and give up. I’m also prepared to find references to a wife and kids. Why shouldn’t he have a family as well by now? I’m even prepared for photos. But not this. Not this.
Title: Eins im Andern
Publisher: Droschl, Graz
Publication date: August 2015
Annette Knoch, firstname.lastname@example.org