Oh No, It’s Arno Schmidt

Arno SchmidtDid you know that Germany had its own James Joyce? He was a lunatic of a writer who <royally> manipulated punctuation and lived in  a wor[l]d of punnified prolexecution. In honor of all things confusing, welcome to the works of Arno Schmidt.

It's hard to tell where to start with this guy, but give Nobodaddy's Children a shot. It's a trilogy of novellas, which begins with a scholarly Nazi bureaucrat and ends with the (supposedly) last man on Earth. Everything's written in a series of fragments, which makes it hard to put together, but on those rare moments where everything fits, you're suddenly back on board.

You can go a little further with Collected Novellas: Collected Early Fiction 1949-1964. He spends a lot of time in ancient Greece and Rome, but then again, maybe you'll find yourself somewhere in the future becoming romantically involved with a radioactive centaur. There's no good way to tell where he's going.

If you finally want to fall all the way into the rabbit hole, there's always Bottom's Dream. It's the author's attempt at his own Finnegan's Wake, and so far as I can tell, it's about a bunch of people arguing over how to translate Edgar Allen Poe while engaging in bawdy shenanigans. The book is more than a thousand pages long and weighs about the same as a brick, but the courageous and hopeless are more than welcome to try.

Go forth if you dare. Try out some Arno Schmidt.

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