Peter Handke’s The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
By biconews On 15 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Ilona Meyer

Last week I promised that I’d tell you about Peter Handke’s The Goalies Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. Well, maybe I lied. Oh, I am still writing my review on this book, I’m just not sure if I can really say anything about it that would be, beyond a doubt, accurate.

Let me explain: many of you, I believe, have seen Wings of Desire, a strange movie where two angels hang around in the streets of Berlin and lay their heads on peoples’ shoulders to give them hope. And most of you - even if you pretend otherwise by making some pseudo-intellectual comment - have been a bit lost about the meaning of it all. Well, this is how I feel towards The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, and not surprisingly, because Peter Handke was Wim Wender’s co-writer for that movie.

Peter Handke is described as a post-modern writer. As my friend who took an entire class on Postmodernism still isn’t able to tell me what the word actually means, I should have taken this as a hint and stayed away, but if I had I would have felt like I was admitting that some things are beyond my understanding. This, I feel I am still too young or too immature to do. Also, knowing that Handke is also described as “one of the world’s most provocative and insightful contemporary writers,” and because the book was recommended to me by I [sic] reader whose opinions I respect, I forged ahead.

Imagine that you show up for work one day, and only one of your co-workers lifts his or her head up from work to acknowledge you. Would you automatically assume that you’ve been fired? I, for one, wouldn’t. But Bloch, the main character of this strange story, does.

Next, he does what you and I would consider the most logical thing to do: he leaves work, checks into a hotel, stalks a movie cashier, kills her, and after being mugged, proceeds to pay a visit to an old girlfriend of his who has a tavern in a border town.

I forgot to mention that Bloch is a retired Goalie. When this fact is combined with the few last pages of the hook, some light is shed on the title. In an attempt to understand more, and being an English major to the bone, I couldn’t stop myself from analysing the text; in so doing I managed to come up with a few ideas of which I am more or less sure. For example, I believe that the great narrative that describes Bloch obsessing over objects and prices might be a commentary on materialism. But then again, as with everything I have said about this book, maybe I’m going out on a limb here.

I don’t feel I can tell you very much else, (not that there is any suspense to ruin) simply because I believe that The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is one of those books that has to be figured out by oneself. I’ve tried to summon a sense of misplaced pride in you, hoping that my own “confusion” will make you want to read this book, if only to prove to yourself that you are so clever and that for you it is a piece of cake to figure out. If this technique does not work, then let me just say, in one last attempt to convince you, that Peter Handke is said to be “widely regarded as the most important postmodern writer since Becket.”

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