One of the reasons perhaps most vehemently opposed to wanting to be a writer is the people who, if you're even remotely successful, may eventually have a camera in front of you (or put you on a horse, or in a beach chair in the middle of nowhere ) and ask stupid questions.
Where do you get your ideas from? How it was (and is) with women. How much one puts oneself into one's books. What is it like with reality and fiction and suffering and literature. People who are told platitudes, perhaps to frighten them - "The text is the shell", for example, "which encloses the sacrifice", namely the sacrifice made to literature.
Which one tries to evade by all means. And then, although they didn't actually find out anything, from hours of material - they were still in their home village, found old loves and very old friends - they cut together an hour and a half that is supposed to contain the whole truth about the famous writer.
Martin Suter has such an hour and a half. "Everything about Martin Suter. Except for the truth” is his name. And what he announces, of course, he does not redeem either. You see Suter at the place of his childhood, on Ibiza, in Morocco. He is seen observing re-enacted scenes from his own novels. It is rather doubtful whether one has learned anything in the end about how the books of this literary defensive magician and evasive artist come about. But the film is beautiful.
Peter Stamm, Suter's compatriot, now also has a one-and-a-half hour film. "Interplay - When Peter Stamm writes" is his name. And at least he redeems the first part of the title. Among other things, this is due to the fact that Stamm is at least as good a virtuoso in interplay and twisting turns as Suter is in rewriting lies in truth (and vice versa).
It all starts with the fact that – the documentary film actually wanted to accompany Stamm in writing a novel – the novel was almost finished. A novel about a writer whom a documentary film crew wants to watch while writing a novel in order to discover the secret of his writing.
The fact that this documentary is part of a large, almost autofictional evasive maneuver in its more or less clandestine staging, basically a hilarious mirror fencing, becomes clear pretty soon when reading “In a dark blue hour”.
Stamm, gifted literary identity player, double floor builder, brilliant explorer of human possibilities, sets up relatively large information signs. Fernando Pessoa, the world champion of literary impersonation, provides the motto. The writer, who – apparently unlike Stamm – has rather reluctantly engaged in the questioning of his literary identity, can be recognized as a gentle Stamm blueprint. The fact that the man on the cover resembles Peter Stamm as if cut from the documentary film and that his name is Richard Wechsler are, however, quite painful blows with the fence post.
The woman sitting across from Wechsler with her camera, who has had better days, is called Andrea. She tells Stamm's novel. She is an unreliable narrator. You listen to her, don't like her, follow her anyway. The film goes wrong, Wechsler constantly avoids, withdraws, at some point, but by then the film has already failed, he is dead (in contrast to Peter Stamm, of course, who has just celebrated his 60th birthday).
But the novel goes on. Andrea believes that she has found the core of all of Wechsler's storytelling. Judith, Wechsler's great love, which was never lived, which only became literature. But what does that mean here? A breezy botanical drum, this novel is full of epiphanies, fantasies, quests, digressions over ten-meter high jumps and train noises, and YouTube autobiographies. About conditions of writing and literature. And about their current status.
Stamm uses Wechsler not only for a kind of veiling dance of himself. But as a discourse contribution dropping machine. "All this autobiographical, autofictional stuff," says Wechsler, for example, "what's the point of it? This feigned authenticity that is more mendacious than any invention could ever be. One never lies so shamelessly as when one tells about oneself.”
This is of course an interesting point of view, one would like to congratulate someone on it. Don't know exactly who. You shouldn't confuse Wechsler with Stamm - sorry, the long madman through this mirror labyrinth makes you very silly.
Wechsler's answers to the questions of what producing literature, inventing stories does to you, how it changes the experience of reality, would of course be (and I'm sure someone will too) relate to him, of course .
But you don't have to. One can also simply leave all of this in the high air for which and from which “In a dark blue hour” is told.
A question, however, that is easier to answer in principle, but definitely more interesting than the question of where the author of a novel is in the novel and whether his great love has something to do with his literature and is reflected in Judith and Andreas' sighting of the Wechsler' remains unanswered: whether anyone has ever finished a glass of sambal oelek.
Peter Stamm: In a dark blue hour. S. Fischer, 256 pages, 24 euros.