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Aichinger, Ilse

The Bound Man

My friends, a confession: I am a sucker. Little stray kittens and musty books and vegetably steamed dumplings…. these things were basically made for me. And stories like this belong on the list of things for which I’m a true sucker, and by “like this” I don’t necessarily mean Austrian (though I don’t mean “decidedly not Austrian” either). And I don’t necessarily mean the sort of story that plucks your arteries and uses them to serenade you corrido-style. Although, again, I don’t have anything against that either….

My friends, a confession: I am a sucker. Little stray kittens and musty books and vegetably steamed dumplings…. these things were basically made for me. And stories like this belong on the list of things for which I’m a true sucker, and by “like this” I don’t necessarily mean Austrian (though I don’t mean “decidedly not Austrian” either). And I don’t necessarily mean the sort of story that plucks your arteries and uses them to serenade you corrido-style. Although, again, I don’t have anything against that either.

But there’s something about a perfectly wrought piece of existential blues that never fails to set me on fire, and it doesn’t matter how heavy the hands that deal the metaphorical blow, I just lie down and prostrate myself to it, or dip myself in candy and find the nearest wrapper, sucker-like.

And of course, if the story’s painfully good (haha) on top of that, I’m a total lost cause. Wrap up warmly and enjoy it.

(and PS: I read german poorly, and there’s not much Aichinger available in English translation, so if you have some, consider yourself lucky, or even better, generous (when you wrap it up and send it to me as a holiday gift))

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By miette

Miette has been podcasting the best of world literature's short fiction since March 2005, when she was just a pup.

7 replies on “The Bound Man”

Very good. Loved the quiet romance between bound man and proprietor’s wife, loved the laughter to make the story complete it’s cycle. Loved the descriptions of the bindings and the movement, easier for the limitations. Found the chase at the end a little cheeseball, but all in all, couldn’t think of a better ending.
Thank you so much for reading!

Hi Brendan! The chase at the end -was- cheeseball, but have you ever eaten a cheeseball? It’s terrible, before and after, but there’s a split second where it’s also mouthwateringly perfect.

Thanks for listening! xo

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