Out of the Line of Fire PDF/EPUB Á of the Line

Wolfi Schönborn self confessed Wunderkind chose as his PhD thesis ‘Reality Beyond the Limits of Perception’ Wolfi didn’t think much of limits Or realityThen Wolfi vanished leaving a fellow student a pile of photographs letters philosophical notes and sexual passagesNarrator and reader are left to piece together clue by clue a bizarre patchwork of intellectual brilliance deviant sexuality farcical horror and wilful innocence to reveal at last stripped of illusion the final bare reality that is Wolfi Or is it?Detective story Bildungsroman sexual chronicle and philosophical odyssey Out of the line of fire is a multi layered masterpiece the most highly praised Australian novel since Peter Carey’s Illywhacker

10 thoughts on “Out of the Line of Fire

  1. says:

    I really loved this metafictional psycho philosophical striptease from Canberra writer Mark Henshaw which I bought at Perth airport and proceeded to devour in a single day tearing through most of it in one gulp during a bumpy flight to Melbourne It's been a long time since I had the opportunity to read a book so devotedly and it made me think about how much the circumstances in which we read a book can affect the way we react to it This is a not inapposite reflection since one of the things this book is about is how we relate to fiction and whether fiction is in the final analysis actually distinguishable from ‘reality’It's about a lot of other things as well this book is jam packed with ideas It's about sex or rather that time in adolescence when life seems to become ‘permeated with a sense of strange and relentless erotic presentiment’ when girls start to feel an inherent sense of power and boys start to feel an inherent sense of predation and desperation these roles can also be reversed but – for reasons we must hope are societal than genetic – they often aren't It's about language and its limitations specifically Wittgenstein's conclusions about language's ‘ultimate incapacity to articulate the world’ something WG Sebald has also written aboutI feel differently but it's a debate I like It's about translation and what it means what is lost in translation the eternal mystery of how so much survives translation large chunks of the text are given twice first in English and then in square brackets in the ‘original’ German – the book is set in Germany And it is about the relationship between truth and fiction a subject with which Henshaw has enormous fun starting even before the novel itself has started opposite the usual publisher's reminder that ‘Any similarity between persons living or dead is purely coincidental’ we have the writer's dedication ‘FOR WOLFI’ Wolfi is the name of the central characterOpening lines Well There are many famous openings to novels but this is the most audacious I've ever seen He beginsYou are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel If on a winter's night a travelerI was laughing straight away Where the hell do you go after a theft of this magnitude and specificity? Henshaw turns it into a playful commentary which also establishes the book's toneThese are the words Italo Calvino selected to open his novel If on a winter's night a traveller Astonishingly he sets them out in the same order Had Walter Abish chosen the same words he might have begun after of course placing them in alphabetical order You Italo Calvino are a winter's night traveler about to begin reading a new novel If But as yet he has not and until he does we will have to waitYou might notice here that ‘traveler’ is spelt thus the American way in the first instance and with two Ls the British way in the second instance But already I felt confident enough in the author that I assumed it was deliberate and sure enough he immediately goes on to reference this tension between regional translations while also introducing the subject of multiple languages which will be so important laterIn fact Calvino begins his novel ‘Stai per cominciare a leggere il nuovo romanzo Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore de Italo Calvino’ Thus the original avoids a peculiar problem which arises only in the translation – ‘viagiatore’ with a single ‘g’ would simply be wrongSo now you've read the two opening paragraphs I realise this is a slow way of reviewing a novel but since there are currently no other reviews of this on the site you might as well have a sampleI think this is a wonderful way to open a book Even though it's probably too clever for its own good the tone is light enough and funny enough that he gets away with itIt is very hard to discuss the plot without giving away important details because the book is in part a sort of metafictional thriller where the ‘truth’ of what we are reading is always in question An Australian narrator meets a brilliant philosophy student called Wolfi while studying in Heidelberg Wolfi disappears our narrator returns to Oz Years later a box arrives containing Wolfi's writings and letters which are presented in the first person From these disparate elements we as readers attempt to piece together the story of Wolfi's life – the life of a fictional character who might even be fictional within the world of the novel But these possibilities are part of the book's point bear that in mind as you approach the ending which I imagine has annoyed several readersThe narrative mode switches between the erotic and the philosophical Perhaps it's just because they're both published by the excellent Text Classics but I kept being reminded of Rod Jones's Julia Paradise another 80s novel about an expatriate Australian and a childhood story of transcendent psychosexual trauma which may or may not be true Henshaw forces his themes to crash into each other in striking ways discussing for instance the translation of philosophy or the sexiness of metafiction Or there's continental philosophy and sex one character overthinking his first blowjob as some men are apt to do reflects on this milestone in the following way which I sincerely hope is intended to be hilariousFor the first time in my life with Andrea bent tenderly over me I became conscious of the real implications of the Hegelian dialecticThere are many nice descriptive set pieces A woman having an orgasm ‘surrenders to the short percussive rebuttals of her body’ a character a few pages earlier is described as looking ‘like the young Mahler might have looked just after someone had told him a joke’ But mostly what we are concerned about here – what I think the other themes are all feeding into – is how the ‘gap between fiction between abstract speculation and so called reality became blurred’or perhaps specifically as it's restated 250 pages later the notion thatthere is essentially no difference between a fictional world and the real world – that each world is particular to the mind that simultaneously perceives and creates itThere are many ways in which this book is not perfect many people will dismiss it as clever clever not without reason and there is something slightly adolescent in its male centric sensibilities But despite its flaws as I said above I really loved it It's the sort of book I wish I had written – and indeed given the book's message I feel encouraged to walk away thinking that maybe I didOct 2014

  2. says:

    A novel about the usual life death love sex the ever nagging bohrende question about truth vs fiction the impossibility of language to abstract from experience and thought and finally translation because the book is in small parts written in German with English translations added to demonstrate the point I suggest that you don’t believe everything you perceive in here the narrators one Australian one Austrian seem unreliableI picked the book under the assumption I would get away for a while from these heavy philosophical stuff I have to read in the Pinkard book But how was I mistaken It’s Kant and Hegel all over the place here too implicitely explicitely and extra explicitley in form of a Hegelian dialectic sex scene And there’s loads of references to other literature and authorsHighly recommended This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 30 Unported License

  3. says:

    Ah back when you could write a perfectly realistic story and surround it with a meta narrative framework and felt fresh I don't remember the days but I'm sure they existed and Henshaw writes so cleanly and amusingly that I can even forgive him the genuinely precious moments I have no idea how this novel would sit with someone even less familiar than I am with Henshaw's discussion group Musil Calvino Kant etc But if you have some idea what those fellows were up to you might enjoy this book I enjoyed it I think because its positive about literature's unreliability etc rater than bemoaning the inability of words to adequately represent reality Also it has a gleefully scurrilous 'plot' and very funny set pieces I've been reading a lot of Sebald lately in an attempt to work out why people like him and I see a lot of Henshaw and Sebald in each other with the important caveat that Henshaw seems smart is funny and implausibly enough given the sections on German idealism and how it developed or was challenged by phenomenology and Heideggerian thought less pretentious So if you like Sebald or don't like him that much but do like the whole is it him or isn't it? how much of this is real and how much is not? thing try Henshaw

  4. says:

    ‘A dazzling debut A tour de force This book is imaginative virtuosic and awesomely assured It is compulsive reading’Don Anderson ‘Experimental extraordinaryOut of the Line of Fire published in 1988 remains one of my favourite Australian novels’Stephen Romei Australian ‘An Australian writer heads to Germany where he gets strong doses of philosophy violence taboo sex and unreliable narrationThe novel feels like an id laid bare and Henshaw keeps the story in line while constantly pointing out the limitations of words to capture reality A remarkable and brainy work of metafiction’STARRED Review Kirkus ‘A clever and playful text offering both a decent story that includes quite a few sordid episodes and behaviour as well as lofty but accessible literary and philosophical speculation and than a few mysteriesIt’s an interesting take on the literary philosophical novel with a deceptively light writing touch that differentiates it from most continental novels playing with similar tricks The scenes the asides and the speculation are both separately and together good if sometimes somewhat creepy fun and Out of the Line of Fire is a smart and smartly twisted novel’Complete Review

  5. says:

    Excellent I highly recommend it

  6. says:

    A really nice discovery of an Australian author I hadn't heard of before This 1988 metafictional novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin that year and has been revived by the Text Classics imprint It focuses on an Austrian philosophy student living in Germany and his unusual family and is very fragmentary in form Henshaw has only just recently published his second novel after all these years and I'll been keen to check it out

  7. says:

    And this is a debut novel as far as I can make out It's like the quote from Scotland on Sunday on the back of my edition says Proof that a first novel need not necessarily come with L plates attachedThe story leaves one with a puzzle which gives one something to think about long after the book is finished Extremely well done