Matthias Politycki – The Book of Women
Teenager Gregor Schattschneider worships fair-haired Kristina and won’t acknowledge that every male in Lengerich is smitten with her as well. Later, during his student days in Vienna, he puts himself in all kinds of embarrassing situations rather than admit that he has taken a fancy to or, more to the point, fallen in love with the disarmingly slow-witted Tania. The third part of his amorous adventure takes place in Stuttgart where thirty-something Gregor falls for Katarina.
The Book of Women
Then, as if to give him another chance, she stopped after thirty metres, stopped walking away from him towards the Bohnenviertel, stopped and shifted her shopping bags to the other hand; and from the five-o’-clock sky drizzled the dispiriting intimation that a White Christmas wasn’t on the cards this year either… and because of the drizzle he couldn’t see anything except the back of a shiny raincoat like the one on the front of Vogue.
And her calves, of course…
And while he followed her down Leonhard Strasse, Gregor felt panicky – panicky about the prospect of never seeing her from the front; panicky about the prospect of seeing her from the front and not liking what he saw; panicky about seeing her from the front and liking what he saw. But he was filled with the urge, filled with the urge, although the rest of the day loomed ahead of him, anthracite-black, he was filled with the urge to whistle because he wasn’t too old! He could tear off his jacket at any given moment, right now, if it came to it, and cast it in front of her, throw it over a puddle, although he knew deep-down that she would speed off in a taxi without a moment’s notice, just vanish around the corner at the end of an almost imperceptible, painfully irrelevant… But while she was ahead of him, he could ignore the men around him with their multicoloured outlooks, forget where he was putting his feet, and still be seventeen, still hope for a miracle, still feel clammy beneath his shirt and wager with himself that it couldn’t be anyone else but Katrina; Katarina, not walking but striding, head held high, past the whores who were crawling sullenly out of their caves, the Bierorgel, the Gaststätte zur Nonne, the Schinderhannes, drawn out by the darkness; Katarina, who suddenly stumbled and, before he could make up his mind to rush to her aid, shifted her bags to the other hand; Katarina, the mystery woman in kitten heels, the sort of heels suited only to women, or so Gregor thought, who had a high opinion of themselves and knew that half a heel was all they needed to put their rivals in the shade. The passing headlights cast a glow on her tights, her stockings, her shiny raincoat, and the way she walked, but more than the way she walked, the way she looked in front of her, straight-ahead-not-right-not-left, as she rounded the corner into Esslinger Strasse; it reminded him from a distance of Katarina whom he followed for a whole summer four years ago, a whole summer until she turned around and saw him for the very first time. And since then? Since then he, Gregor Schattschneider, who knew the ways of the world and was never thrown off track or knocked sideways by anything, no longer had a pulse in every part of his body, and besides: the woman wasn’t going just anywhere, she was striding towards Charlottenplatz, and Charlottenplatz was where he was going, not striding, but going; where he was going anyway. Past Seifen-Lenz, bett & art, TUI travel, past the delicious st…eady on! He almost ran into her, she was standing in front of the delicious stacks of chocolates in Café Nast, and he stepped to the side, stepped to the side
and trod in something –
let out a curse and a quote –
And the door to the café closed behind her (…)
From: Politycki, Matthias: Weiberroman / Matthias Politycki. - München: Luchterhand
Historisch-kritische Gesamtausgabe - 3rd ed., 1997.- 428p.
Copyright © 1997 by Matthias PolityckiTranslated by Stefan Tobler