Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On "Homo Faber" by Max Frisch ****

I first read this novel about thirteen years ago now, soon after I moved to Texas. I remember it as part of that time, as that summer of my first year there. I had picked it up cheap (one dollar) and mostly because it had been adapted into a Sam Shepard movie called Voyager. I've never seen the film, but I'd like to, especially now after my second reading these many years later.

The book starts slowly enough. The narrator is obsessed with facts, with science. He's an engineer. He believes that he--that man--can control things. And we watch as he, this ultimate man of control, loses himself to emotion and commits one of the most base acts one can imagine. Sure, he justifies himself, but to what extent we are to believe him is questionable.

Pulled many years earlier into a love affair that he runs away from, he once again finds himself on the run from love, taking a cruise across the Atlantic for rest, only to be drawn into the grip of his lust. Watching it happen, and the revelations that follow, are fascinating. This is where the book gets really interesting. On the whole, this first part of the book works better than the second, which plays like a rather boring remix album. But luckily for readers, the first part forges the majority of the book.

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