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Rilke, Rainer Maria

The Young Workman’s Letter (Guest narrator: Chris King)

Usually, when I think about this humble little project, it fills me with all kinds of amourpropre. Even when I’m temporarily removed from my own devices (audiotorily speaking), I can’t help but self-congratulatorily pat myself backwise (I’m flexible) at keeping the motor of this anthology running.

Then sometimes I’m introduced to other projects that leave me licking the dust of underachievement. Tonight’s narrator is behind one such project. You should have a listen to Poetry Scores, and share in the dust-licking awe of it. And as a bonus to all of us, Chris King, the genius responsible, is a Rilke enthusiast of the very best sort. It’s our lucky day.

Visit Poetry Scores and Confluence City and don’t forget to thank Chris for the story.

I’ll be back very soon now, honest.

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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.

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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Musil, Robert

Binoculars

A saw a sign the other day while out on a drive, a sign that said this: Frost Heaves.

And I almost had to stop and compose myself, because I was so deeply distressed by the fact that frost can’t heave in private (and I’m not a histrionic sort of girl), and saddened that a frost’s heave has to be announced clearly for any old asshole who happens to be driving by, and that even though this old asshole was told that the frost was heaving, which was too much, I wanted more… I wanted a sign telling me exactly why the frost was heaving.

Well, it was then explained to me that this condition probably had very little to do with the emotional state of the frost, and was intended as a warning to the state of the pavement. Which made me better about the frost, which I care about a little more than pavement. Apparently, this old asshole is also a little biased that way. Which is not meant to offend any pavement that happens to be listening.

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Bachmann, Ingeborg

Everything

A caveat for you listeners. Hell, a full-out warning: this is a long one, today’s story, long and, dare I say it, a little dark, and not in the “change the bulb” sort of way. Which is just my way of saying to you: this is not a first-date sort of story, really not, and it’s probably not an endorphinator to be enjoyed on the treadmill. It’s more a story, for you know, rainy nights and whiskey, or something to fill a long silence of a spat with friends or loved ones, or to drown out the sound of a dental drill.

I wonder if anybody’s ever developed Disdain By Association for these stories thanks to listening at the dentist.

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Hofmannsthal, Hugo von

The Lord Chandos Letter

Allow me now to guide you most gently out of the first week of July: those of you in America, lie on your side and listen quietly, finding pause only to burp out the last taste of your hotdogmatic overindulgences. Just focus on the voice — the beer is two days old and will make its way to the outer side of your pores eventually, I promise — and let me repeat — you are NOT going to always feel this way. And the ringing in your ears? It can’t possibly last much longer. And you really shouldn’t have eaten so much potato salad. But listen up; it’ll be okay.

Exceptional request, absolutely and with much pleasure:

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