IIn his volume of stories, Wisser describes different women’s lives in short episodes. Everything revolves around the everyday challenges of love, the sometimes difficult arguments with oneself and above all: strange relationships.
A woman who falsely accuses her husband of having an affair, and this man who sees no other way out than to make up a lover to justify his wife’s grotesque delusions – that’s what the story called “Silvia” is about. The overall title of the book can therefore be understood literally here. The story culminates in the absurd when the real Ilona writes a letter to the imaginary Silvia and asks her to help her bring fresh air into the marriage: “My husband denies everything. Lately he’s been claiming he just made you up. This is very humbling for me. Please help me!” Is this story too crazy to be true?
A lot of vodka and rejection
This question is also asked in “Aviva”, a story about a woman named Inga. In addition to an alcohol problem, she also has difficulties dealing with the chaos in the apartment and bringing structure to her life. And even having children didn’t really work out, despite hormone preparations. Then Inga meets her new neighbor Aviva, who she finds very strange at first and later very attractive. So it happens that one evening they both get to know each other better.
Inga, who seems to misinterpret Aviva’s compliments in her longing for closeness, starts an approach that is not reciprocated by the neighbor. After leaving in tears, Inga thinks she has uncovered Aviva’s dark secret: she fathered another son with her own son and killed the first one after conception! Is that how it happened? Or is it the fruit of a lot of vodka and Aviva’s previous rejection? Wisser leaves the answer to this question to the reader.
In the episodes named after individual protagonists, the Austrian writer, born in 1971, undramatically and unadornedly portrays the lives of women as they really are or could be. Sometimes on more, sometimes on fewer pages, he succeeds in depicting unpredictable and varied everyday tragedies. Even if the images of women and men are sometimes very similar.
And so it happens that the woman drinking Prosecco and the man leaving the doors open keep encountering one another. What can be understood as a repetitive stylistic element and connects the individual stories with each other quickly becomes monotonous when browsing one after the other. It is therefore advisable to read each of Wisser’s stories individually.
Daniel Wisser: “The Fictitious Woman”. Tales. Luchterhand Literaturverlag, Munich 2022. 240 p., born, 22 euros.