The Appointment: A Novel by Katharina Volckmer
English | 2020 |General/Classics| ePUB | 1.9 MB
For readers of Ottessa Moshfegh and Han Kang, a whip-smart, darkly funny, and subversive debut novel in which a woman on the verge of major change addresses her doctor in a stream of consciousness narrative.
In a well-appointed examination in London, a young woman unburdens herself to a certain Dr. Seligman. Though she can barely see above his head, she holds forth about her life and desires, her struggles with her sexuality and identity. Born and raised in Germany, she has been living in London for several years, determined to break free from her family origins and her haunted homeland. But the recent death of her grandfather, and an unexpected inheritance, make it clear that you cannot easily outrun your own shame, whether it be physical, familial, historical, national, or all of the above.
Or can you? With Dr. Seligman’s help, our narrator will find out.
In a monologue that is both deliciously dark and subversively funny, she takes us on a wide-ranging journey from Hitler-centered sexual fantasies and overbearing mothers to the medicinal properties of squirrel tails and the notion that anatomical changes can serve as historical reparation. The Appointment is an audacious debut novel by an explosive new international literary voice, challenging all of our notions of what is fluid and what is fixed, and the myriad ways we seek to make peace with others and ourselves in the 21st century.
My legs are starting to feel quite tired; it’s been such a long time since I spread them like this for anyone, Dr. Seligman, but I think that this new friendship of ours is remarkable in so many ways, and I never thought I could talk like this to someone I know. K and I always agreed that the only real conversations you can have in life are those with strangers at night. During the day, there is no anonymity, and if you just start talking to people, you are a freak, most likely one of those Bible weirdos, but there comes an hour every night when Jesus’s disciples are safely tucked away and the differences don’t matter anymore. For me this has always been the only real intimacy; those were the only people I could share things with. The people I met at the bus stop at night, the people sitting on empty benches, or the sad women selling sweets and cosmetics outside the toilets of clubs and bars. Those were the only real people I ever met in this city, where everyone is wrapped in impenetrable layers of fear and ambition and all our attempts at communication end in loneliness. With people that seem so empty that they must have sucked up all the air that was left, crippling our lungs with their meaningless existence. But with strangers it’s different; you can be sad in front of them. Do you have that as well, Dr. Seligman? I can never be sad in front of people I know; there is a mechanism that always allows me to function, and you have to believe me when I say that I usually act out of a profound sense of sadness and despair. If we were to wait until the soft darkness of the early morning, somewhere between three and four, you would be able to see it shining through, Dr. Seligman—the face that is buried underneath all the jokes. And K always loved the idea that there were a few strangers in this city who knew it all, who knew why he sometimes cried like a child and which drawer in his life this alphabet of fear came from. That without revealing our faces and names we carry each other’s secrets and guard them through the night as though they were luminaries, precious pieces that bind us together, make us recognise each other as human, in those fleeting moments that have become so rare. And as we come home from our nocturnal walks, Dr. Seligman, those secrets are glowing in our hands, fragile little creatures that we will nurture back to life. I wish K and I could have remained strangers; I wish I could call one of his secrets my own and feel it glowing next to me in the dark.