The Shaved Man (Anatoly Marienhof)

The Shaved Man is a novel by Anatoly Marienhof. I read the German translation by Brigitte van Kann and Gregor Jarcho.
Finished on: 3.1.2021

Mishka and Leo have been friends for a long time. Although friends may be the wrong word – Leo has always dominated Mishka, as the more beautiful, more charming and more cruel of the two. But one night Mishka is done with it all. He murders Leo – and then tries to figure out why he did it.

I read Cynics not too long ago and I really enjoyed it. The Shaved Man didn’t work that well for me, unfortunately. I never really got into the story.

The book cover of the German edition, showing a pencil drawing of two faces taht seem to be lying down.

Like Cynics, The Shaved Man is a rather short novel, almost a novella. Marienhof’s language is just as short and there is always an ironic undertone to it. It’s not really a funny story, but there is a sense of absurdity to it all that almost gives the impression that it is funny.

It’s not only a short novel, it’s also a small novel in the sense that it shows us the big stuff in the small story it tells. It captures the small indignities of an unbalanced relationship that keep piling up. The small cruelties that turn into big ones. The small options people see that turn into grave consequences.

So it certainly isn’t a bad book, but I just never connected with the story, with Mishka and certainly not with Leo. That made the book rather unsatisfying, despite its astute observations and characterization.

Summarizing: not so much my thing.

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