Andrea Winkler’s prose is quite exceptional among authors of her age writing in German: while most attention in recent years has been given to (and most propaganda has been made for) the ‘good story’ smoothly told, Andrea Winkler’s art insists that it’s language work which forms the prose. And which will, much more than simple reproduction, bring about encounters with our world.
In Andrea Winkler’s texts, the characters find themselves radically shaped by and lost in the phrasings of their (our) surroundings. Or, as Peter Waterhouse put it in a laudation on Andrea Winkler’s work, “in every or almost every sentence you will hear something which is repeated, you will hear the sentence stumble, stop, and pause.” And it’s this stumbling, these cracks in the language coating which reveal that Winkler’s characters have managed to preserve some individuality. They are “poor fools” (Arme Närrchen), and their resistance is often hesitant and weak, it may be nothing more than the search for a word, or the feeling that they can’t remember the few things of importance in their lives: “Was immer ich mir ins Gedächtnis gerufen habe, etwas blieb aus, das Wichtigste vermutlich, jetzt muss ich ohne weiter tanzen, weiter gehen.” But it’s the acutely felt presence of such dark spots and dissonances that saves the characters from dissolving inside the preset phrases & paths of reflection, and makes them shout: “Als ob es im Leben nichts anderes als Zukunft gäbe!” (“As if there was nothing in life but future!”)
Andrea Winkler’s Selbstgespräche (soliloquies) give a language to the distance between the characters and their surroundings which opens space for doubt and questioning – also for the texts’ readers. I found that a quick, too self-assured reading of Winkler’s sentences did not only leave me with the impression of missing what these texts are able to give, but also with a peculiar feeling of violence – against the characters, myself? When slowing down, however, and exploring the cracks in language with a more careful heart, the peculiar logics and vulnerabilities inside them gave rise to quite a few productive insecurities and turns of thought, one of which sounded: Whose soliloquies are these, after all? The characters’? Winkler’s? Mine?