WONDERFUL WONDERFUL TIMES is now the second book I have read by Elfriede Jelinek. At the beginning, four teenagers-Rainer, Anna, Sophia, and Hans commit an act of violence and robbery against a stranger in post WWII Vienna. They behave much like forerunners to a Clockwork Orange type of future.
Ranier and Anna are brother and sister and Hands and Sophia are their friends. Ranier and Anna’s father is a one legged ex SS officer and their mother is his doormat as he spends most of his time abusing her forcing her to be the model for the pornographic photographs he takes.
Sophia (whom both Ranier and Hans both like) is from a wealthy family and Hans (who is liked by Anna but with whom he has a sex only relationship with)is a drop out. What unites them is their complete lack of purpose and interest in life. Ranier is a would be intellectual and poet, Anna is a bulimic who wants to become a better pianist, Sophia is spoiled, and Hans wishes to be a PE teacher.
Jelinek is less clear in this book as she was in the one I read previously WOMEN AS LOVERS. She’s spends a lot of time in describing the thought process and the actions of the fours characters as they gradually escalate their criminal behavior and all around anti-social activities.
In fact this book could have used some editing-I’d say at least 50 pages or so. The ending also seems rushed
Still what Jelinek does do correctly is show how Austrian society had becomes amoral in the wake of the war. There are no sympathetic characters in this book. Perhaps the most memorable in a disgusting way is Ranier and Anna’s father the perverted impotent Nazi who misses the killing and torture of wartime made me wince every time I saw a scene coming up with him in it.
She has a way with the routine unpleasantness of life and also showing how that becomes one with a diseased system be it capitalistic or something else.
So onto the third Jelinek book LUST.