Latest Review: "We're Flying" by Peter Stamm
The latest addition to our Reviews Section is a piece by Quantum Sarah on Peter Stamm’s new collection of stories, We’re Flying, which came out from Other Press in Michael Hofmann’s translation earlier this year.
Peter Stamm has a number of books available in English translation, including Seven Years, which was on last year’s Best Translated Book Award fiction longlist.
Quantum Sarah was a spectacular summer intern who is not back in school, but will likely be reviewing for us again in the not-too-distant future. Here’s the opening of her review:
In his new collection We’re Flying, Swiss author Peter Stamm weaves together a multitude of perspectives with the ghostly fiber of loss. This fascinating set of short stories centers around the general theme of the “human condition”—joy and sadness, birth and death, couples and families, work and school. However, a generous majority of these tales unfold against a subconscious background of grief, whether real or imagined: the widow that learns posthumously of her husband’s affair; the toddler abandoned by his parents at preschool; the frustrated artist. Yet the book isn’t a blurred mess of sympathy; rather, it’s a sharp analysis of life’s chronic pain and beauty. Precise, disquieting, and high-impact, Stamm’s new collection slices away surface tissue to reveal the downright messiness of human life
Stamm’s stories are surprisingly fleshed-out with minimum verbage. Like the artist in one of his stories, Stamm writes surgically: “You paint what you see with the maximum of precision, but you don’t care about the precision of the depiction . . . What counts is decisiveness.” His characters are quickly but sharply sketched; his story-world is modeled on the one at hand, but as though seen through a microscope, with fine-grained crystals of detail. Stamm shows, instead of tells—in “Sweet Dreams,” a newly-cohabiting girl reflects on the meaning of family while imagining an old black-and-white photo of relatives.
Click here to read the entire review.