Brief notes on Peter Handke's early novel, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (translated by Michael Roloff):
I've always liked the title of this book. It's suggested to me the excitement of a tension-filled moment. I've recalled those few times when I played goalie. At the ready. Alert. Alive. I wondered what a book with such a title would be like, and it remains suggestive. Certainly, I didn't imagine a novel about a soccer game! Indeed not. But we do have a former goalie, more or less wandering about, it seems aimlessly. Suddenly, he kills a woman. Why? Who knows? Least of all him. His struggle seems to be with being alive in the world, feeling authentic.
I've mentioned problems I've had with reading Handke in the past. Here, too, there is resistance. His fairly simple sentences seem unsteady; I have trouble moving from one to the other, though eventually I read on. I've read with interest Edmond Caldwell's two posts describing what he calls "the Handke Effekt". I haven't read either of the novels under discussion in those posts, but his observations seems relevant to my experience. Perhaps I hold on to expectations of a different kind of narrative, one that Handke refuses to offer, refuses because it is unjustified.
Not nearly as good as Across, it seems to me, but a worthy read.