The Afternoon of a Writer by Peter Handke is unnervingly like this video installation of the same title: deafeningly spare and silent, bleak and blank and lonely, a cool examination of language and process that provokes a niggling question—Have we, after all this, come to the limits of language? Is the page a palimpsest of emptiness?
It may take my whole life to formulate my answer to that question. Certainly, this deep, dense slip of a book (it’s eighty-three pages long, unfathomable to say so much and so little) should be read many times over before venturing more than the question. Yet, what to do in the meantime?
“I started out as a storyteller. Carry on. Live and let live. Portray. Transmit. Continue to work the most ephemeral of materials, my breath; be its craftsman.”
– from the novel.