This book by prize winning Austrian author Josef Winkler is not so much an novel as a treatise on death. In eloquent and moving language, he describes the mostly violent and frequently self inflicted deaths of the inhabitants of a Carinthian village. Winkler is not well known in the UK. His major themes are suicide, homosexuality and the corrosive influence of Catholicism and Nazism in Austrian country life. A compulsive and disturbing read.
In the clay vessel where the putrid smelling bone stock was rendered from the bones of the slaughtered animals, to be painted on the horses with a crow's feather in the summer heat around the eyes and nostrils and on the belly to protect them from the pricking and blood-sucking horseflies and mosquitoes, lies the skeleton of the hanged August Rosenfelder over the skeleton of his wife Paula, who took her life up in the attic. A thick black braid covered her right eye and the tip of her tongue, which stuck out from between her lips.