|And Other Stories|
the guardian Tue 22 November 2011
Take the bare prose of Raymond Carver, apply the bleak outlook of Michel Houellebecq, place characters from an Irvine Welsh book on German streets, and you have something close to this collection of 15 short stories. Meyer lives in Leipzig and focuses on the poorer side of his nation. Here, boxers and ex-cons move among prostitutes and fork-lift drivers, drinking in snack bars, working in cash-and-carries and sleeping in cheap flats beside railway lines. Despite the material, Meyer's stories avoid class clichés or stock realist techniques. Instead, his tales have an evanescent, impressionistic quality, jumping back and forth in time while Meyer shades in the narrative with lines such as "he'd offered her a cigarette from the nice leather case his wife had given him last year, back when he'd been made deputy manager of the Processed Foods section". Over 200 pages of poverty and precarious living might prove too much for some. Yet Meyer thrills and rewards as often as he lays down uncomfortable truths.