PositiveBOMBThose who already know Adam Morris’s translations will be familiar with the way that Noll moves a story forward: with unexpected sideways leaps, murkily signposted transitions, and above all the juxtaposition of episodes whose import, one guesses, might have remained enigmatic even for the author himself. A reader of such material has to work—and to work even a little too hard, on occasion—to avoid losing the thread altogether ... Equally, those who were happy to meet the demands will be familiar with the rewards for persevering ... given that in Lord each of these regimes of power seems to emit from a center as absent as is the elusive academic, one can discern a coherent and haunting political argument running through the narrative ... Ultimately, it’s not quite clear what question or questions the text is primarily wrestling with. It concludes with a sequence that feels like the solution to a problem, though to which problem among the many raised and then dropped in the course of the book, sometimes extremely fleetingly, it’s hard to tell. Not that this matters: as I’ve said, Noll constructs his fictions by means of a series of left turns, and one shouldn’t be surprised to find that logic carried through to the very end, sometimes to a surprisingly satisfying effect, as in Quiet Creature, and sometimes, as here, playing the more disquieting role of opening up questions barely larval in the preceding narrative.
Wolfgang Hilbig, trans. Isabel Fargo Cole
PositiveLos Angeles Review of Books BlogThe Females is a queasy read ... an extremely intricate soldering of one trope to another such that they form long chains which intertwine and must be unpicked from each other. Another way to put it might be that they form waves which in their interactions create complex patterns of interference ... the narrator’s language finds itself more than equal to the task of thinking through the destructive effects that the state has on the lives of its subjects ... In the end, the book feels like it turns on a riddle: how can the females have vanished if they were never visible in the first place? ... Hilbig is directing our attention to something really unthinkable, of which the separation into women and females is a particularly shocking local instance: that no moment of history can be weighed for its consequences by those living in its stead.