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Josef Winkler

JOSEF WINKLER (b. 1953, Austria) is the author of more than a dozen books, among them When the Time Comes and Natura Morta. His major themes are suicide, homosexuality, and the corrosive influence of Catholicism and Nazism in Austrian country life. Winner of the 2008 Buchner prize and current president of the Austrian Art Senate, he lives in Klagenfurt with his wife and two children.

When the Time Comes

A TRANSLATION OF Wenn es soweit istBY ADRIAN WEST The bone stock, said the ninety-year-old man with the grey- flecked moustache and the trimmed eyebrows, was brewed in the village by a little man who lived in miserable circumstances.

When the Time Comes

A TRANSLATION OF Wenn es soweit istBY ADRIAN WEST For two hours after the presents and the evening snack—sitting around the kitchen table, they ate homemade pork sausages with horseradish and mustard, which, to the children’s diversion, squirted grease as far as a meter away when stuck with a fork—the mother, father, and children prayed the rosary for the dead, with the mother leading.

When the Time Comes

A TRANSLATION OF Wenn es soweit istBY ADRIAN WEST In the clay vessel in which the pandapigl was rendered, from the bones of slaughtered animals, to be brushed on the horses with a crow’s feather around the eyes, nostrils, and belly to protect them from the mosquitoes and horseflies, the skeleton of Hildegard Zitterer lies atop that of her husband, Willibald Zitterer.

When the Time Comes

A TRANSLATION OF Wenn es soweit istBY ADRIAN WEST In the clay vessel in which the putrid-smelling bone stock was rendered, from the skeletons of slaughtered animals, to be brushed on the horses with a crow’s feather around the eyes, nostrils, and belly to protect them from the flies and horseflies that pestered them and sucked their blood, lies the skeleton of the pastor Balthasar Kranabeter, the painter of prayer cards and images of Hell, who lay exposed for days in the church in Pulsnitz, over the skeleton of the five-year-old child, dead from a tractor accident.

When the Time Comes

A TRANSLATION OF Wenn es soweit istBY ADRIAN WEST A few months after the double suicide of the seventeen-year-old boys—those two idiots who did away with themselves together! is still heard in the village today—Leopold’s brother hanged himself in a forest near Falkenau, and a few years later his other brother was taken down lifeless from a bridge in Villach.

When the Time Comes

A TRANSLATION OF Wenn es soweit istBY ADRIAN WEST During Advent—the open black umbrella was white with snowflakes—Maximilian sought out the ninety-three-year-old Miss Glantschnig, who had, until recently, been able to go shopping every day and cook her own lunch, but who had lately been cared for by her daughter-in-law, Marlies, in exchange for a monthly fee.

When the Time Comes

A TRANSLATION OF Wenn es soweit istBY ADRIAN WEST Hafner’s nephew, the sixteen-year-old Roman, whose bones lie below the skeleton of his rachitic uncle in the clay vessel in which the pandapigl was rendered, from the bones of slaughtered animals, to be brushed on the horses around the eyes, nostrils, and belly to protect them from mosquitoes and horseflies, began the cycle of suicides in the village of Maximilian’s birth.

When the Time Comes

A TRANSLATION OF Wenn es soweit istBY ADRIAN WEST The successor to the painter of Hell, the pastor Nikolaus Nußbaumer, often trotted out his trained dog before the acolytes; when he made a sign, it would adopt an attack pose in the backseat of his car, open its jaws, lips leaking spittle, and show its crooked, wax-yellow teeth to the children who watched it through the windshield; and when he gave another sign it would curl up, meek as a lamb—so that I may in Heaven come—and take its place in the backseat; since the time he ordered the house of the former sacristan across from the cemetery destroyed, the barn where Roman hanged himself is the building closest to the cemetery on the right hand side of the village built in the form of a cross, and Jonathan’s parents’ house is the closest on the left.

When the Time Comes

A TRANSLATION OF Wenn es soweit istBY ADRIAN WEST Adam the Third spoke up about the undesirable newborn cats on his farm, scabrous and still blind; in other cases, he looked down on the Catholic Church and dismissed its rites with the words, Puppet Show! Farce! and nowadays he only shows his face in God’s house during the holy days, for reasons of decorum: the newborn cats, those little cripples, should be wiped out.

from Graveyard of Bitter Oranges

May the wax drops from a blessed candle spill over my navel to seal my corpse. Lay the large sacred image that hung for decades over my deathbed—Raphael’s Madonna della seggiola—on top of my open coffin, so the mourners around the casket, come to pray and chant and pay their respects, may no longer see my face in death.

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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

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