Never believe that any life is so ordinary that it is just boring. This is the proof that this is not the case. Nothing much happens in the life of Andreas Egger apart from an avalanche, a war, building cable cars and meeting tourists, but that is not to say that it is boring, inconsequential. It is, in many ways, an uneventful life but that does not make it ordinary. Robert Seethaler demonstrates this quite conclusively in this novella. It is, I suppose, a brief life. Seethaler does not make the mistake of calling it that.
So what is it that makes this book a joy to read? It is certainly not that it is thrilling. It is not the life of someone who made an impact in the world. It is the story of someone who did not achieve a great deal, of someone who passed through the world leaving hardly a mark upon it. In other words, it is the story of the vast majority of us. We make a difference in small ways, in ways that are not remarkable, in ways that do not have much of an impact on history. It is a simple story, simply told.
When I say simply told, that does not do justice to the writing. This i an extraordinarily beautiful story, and the translator, Charlotte Collins, has done a remarkable job. Every phrase, every sentence counts. They tell the story of a life beset by hardship, patience and endurance, a life of love, compassion and simplicity. It is a wonderful book. It is a book that people should read – as simple and compelling as that. You should read it.