The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick: A Novel (FSG Classics)

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9780374531065: The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick: A Novel (FSG Classics)

The first of Peter Handke's novels to be published in English, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a true modern classic that "portrays the...breakdown of a murderer in ways that recall Camus's The Stranger" (Richard Locke, The New York Times). The self-destruction of a soccer goalie turned construction worker who wanders aimlessly around a stifling Austrian border town after pursuing and then murdering, almost unthinkingly, a female movie cashier is mirrored by his use of direct, sometimes fractured prose that conveys "at its best a seamless blend of lyricism and horror seen in the runes of a disintegrating world" (Bill Marx, Boston Sunday Globe).

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About the Author:

Peter Handke was born in Griffen, Austria, in 1942. His most recent novel is Crossing the Sierra de Gredos (FSG, 2007).

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Goalie's Anxiety At the Penalty Kick
WHEN JOSEPH BLOCH, a construction worker who had once been a well-known soccer goalie, reported for work that morning, he was told that he was fired. At least that was how he interpreted the fact that no one except the foreman looked up from his coffee break when he appeared at the door of the construction shack, where the workers happened to be at that moment, and Bloch left the building site. Out on the street he raised his arm, but the car that drove past --even though Bloch hadn't been hailing a cab--was not a cab. Then he heard the sound of brakes in front of him. Bloch looked around: behind him there was a cab; its driver started swearing. Bloch turned around, got in, and told the driver to take him to the Naschmarkt. It was a beautiful October day. Bloch ate a hot dog at a stand and then walked past the stalls to a movie theater. Everything he saw bothered him. He tried to notice as little as possible. Inside the theater he breathed freely. Afterward he was astonished by the perfectly natural manner of the cashier in responding to the wordless gesture with which he'd put his money on the box-office turntable. Next to the movie screen he noticed the illuminated dial of an electric clock. Halfway through the movie he heard a bell; for a long time he couldn't decide whether the ringing was in the film or in the belfry outside near the Naschmarkt. Out on the street, he bought some grapes, which were especially cheap at this time of year. He walked on, eating the grapes and spitting out the skins. The first hotel where he asked for a room turned him away because he had only a briefcase with him; the desk clerk at the second hotel, which was on a side street, took him to his room himself. Even before the clerk had gone, Bloch lay down on the bed and soon fell asleep. In the evening he left the hotel and got drunk. Later he sobered up and tried calling some friends; since most of these friends didn't live in the city and the phone didn't return his coins, Bloch soon ran out of change. A policeman to whom Bloch shouted,thinking he could get his attention, did not respond. Bloch wondered whether the policeman might have misconstrued the words Bloch had called across the street, and he remembered the natural way the movie cashier had spun around the tray with his ticket. He'd been so astonished by the swiftness of her movements that he almost forgot to pick up the ticket. He decided to look up the cashier. When he got to the movie, the theater's lights were just going out. Bloch saw a man on a ladder exchanging the letters of the film for tomorrow's title. He waited until he could read the name of the next film; then he went back to the hotel. The next day was Saturday. Bloch decided to stay at the hotel one more day. Except for an American couple, he was alone in the dining room; for a while he listened to their conversation, which he could understand fairly well because he'd traveled with his team to several soccer tournaments in New York; then he quickly went out to buy some newspapers. The papers, because they were the weekend editions, were very heavy; he didn't fold them up but carried them under his arm to the hotel. He sat down at his table, which had been cleared in the meantime, and took out the want-ad sections; this depressed him. Outside he saw two people walking by with thick newspapers. He held his breath until they had passed.Only then did he realize they were the two Americans. Having seen them earlier only at the table in the dining room, he did not recognize them. At a coffeehouse he sipped for a long time at the glass of water served with his coffee. Once in a while he got up and took a magazine from the stacks lying on the chairs and tables designated for them; once when the waitress retrieved the magazines piled beside him, she muttered the phrase "newspaper table" as she left. Bloch, who could hardly bear looking at the magazines but at the same time could not really put down a single one of them before he had leafed through it completely, tried glancing out at the street now and then; the contrast between the magazine illustrations and the changing views outside soothed him. As he left, he returned the magazines to the table himself. At the market the stalls were already closed. For a few minutes Bloch casually kicked discarded vegetables and fruit along the ground in front of him. Somewhere between the stalls he relieved himself. Standing there, he noticed that the walls of the wooden stands were black with urine everywhere. The grape skins he had spat out the day before were still lying on the sidewalk. When Bloch put his money on the cashier's tray, the bill got caught as the turntable revolved; he had a chance to say something.The cashier answered. He said something else. Because this was unusual, the girl looked up. This gave him an excuse to go on talking. Inside the movie, Bloch remembered the cheap novel and the hot plate next to the cashier; he leaned back and began to take in the details on the screen. Late in the afternoon he took a streetcar to the stadium. He bought standing room but sat down on the newspapers, which he still hadn't thrown away; the fact that the spectators in front of him blocked his view did not bother him. During the game most of them sat down. Bloch wasn't recognized. He left the newspapers where they were, put a beer bottle on top of them, and went out of the stadium before the final whistle, so he wouldn't get caught in the rush. The many nearly empty buses and streetcars waiting outside the stadium--it was a championship game--seemed strange. He sat down in a streetcar. He sat there almost alone for so long that he began to feel impatient. Had the referee called overtime? When Bloch looked up, he saw that the sun was going down. Without meaning anything by it, Bloch lowered his head. Outside, it suddenly got windy. At just about the time that the final whistle blew, three long separate blasts, the drivers and conductors got into the buses and streetcars and the people crowded out of thestadium. Bloch could imagine the noise of beer bottles landing on the playing field; at the same time he heard dust hitting against the windows. Just as he had leaned back in the movie house, so now, while the spectators surged into the streetcar, he leaned forward. Luckily, he still had his film program. It felt as though the floodlights had just been turned on in the stadium. "Nonsense," Bloch said to himself. He never played well under the lights. Downtown he spent some time trying to find a phone booth; when he found an empty one, the ripped-off receiver lay on the floor. He walked on. Finally he was able to make a call from the West Railroad Station. Since it was Saturday, hardly anybody was home. When a woman he used to know finally answered, he had to talk a bit before she understood who he was. They arranged to meet at a restaurant near the station, where Bloch knew there was a juke box. He passed the time until she came putting coins in the juke box, letting other people choose the songs; meanwhile, he looked at the signed photos of soccer players on the walls. The place had been leased a couple of years ago by a forward on the national eleven, who'd then gone overseas as coach of one of the unofficial American teams; now that that league had broken up, he'd disappeared over there. Bloch started talking to a girl who kept reachingblindly behind her from the table next to the juke box, always choosing the same record. She left with him. He tried to get her into a doorway, but all the gates were already locked. When one could be opened, it turned out that, to judge from the singing, a religious service was going on behind an inner door. They found an elevator and got in; Bloch pushed the button for the top floor. Even before the elevator started up, the girl wanted to get out again. Bloch then pushed the button for the second floor; there they got out and stood on the stairs; now the girl became affectionate. They ran upstairs together. The elevator was on the top floor; they got in, rode down, and went out on the street. Bloch walked beside the girl for a while; then he turned around and went back to the restaurant. The woman, still in her coat, was waiting. Bloch explained to the other girl, who was still at the table next to the juke box, that her friend would not come back, and went out of the restaurant with the woman. Bloch said, "I feel silly without a coat when you're wearing one." The woman took his arm. To free his arm, Bloch pretended that he wanted to show her something. Then he didn't know what it was he wanted to show her. Suddenly he felt the urge to buy an evening paper. They walked through several streets but couldn't find a newsstand. Finally theytook the bus to the South Station, but it was already closed. Bloch pretended to be startled; and in reality he was startled. To the woman--who had hinted, by opening her purse on the bus and fiddling with various things, that she was having her period--he said, "I forgot to leave a note," without knowing what he actually meant by the words "note" and "leave." Anyway, he got into a cab alone and drove to the Naschmarkt. Since the movie had a late show on Saturdays, Bloch actually arrived too early. He went to a nearby cafeteria and, standing up, ate a croquette. He tried to tell the counter girl a joke as fast as he could; when the time was up and he still hadn't finished, he stopped in the middle of a sentence and paid. The girl laughed. On the street he ran into a man he knew who asked him for money. Bloch swore at him. As the drunk grabbed Bloch by the shirt, the street blacked out. Startled, the drunk let go. Bloch, who'd been expecting the theater lights to go out, rushed away. In front of the movie house he met the cashier; she was getting into a car with a man. Bloch watched her. When she was in the car, in the seat next to the driver, she answered his look by adjusting her dress on the seat; at least Bloch took this to be a response. There were no incidents; she had closed the door and the car had driven off. Bloch went back to the hotel. He found the lobby lit up but deserted. When he took his key from the hook, a folded note fell out of the pigeonhole. He opened it: it was his bill. While Bloch stood there in the lobby, with the note in his hand, the desk clerk came out of the checkroom. Bloch immediately asked him for a newspaper and at the same time looked through the open door into the checkroom, where the clerk had evidently been napping on a chair he'd taken from the lobby. The clerk closed the door, so that all Bloch could see was a small stepladder with a soup bowl on it, and said nothing until he was behind the desk. But Bloch had understood even the closing of the door as a rebuff and walked upstairs to his room. In the rather long hall he noticed a pair of shoes in front of only one door; in his room he took off his own shoes without untying them and put them outside the door. He lay down on the bed and fell asleep at once. In the middle of the night he was briefly awakened by a quarrel in the adjoining room; but perhaps his ears were so oversensitive after the sudden waking that he only thought the voices next door were quarreling. He slammed his fist against the wall. Then he heard water rushing in the pipes. The water was turned off; it became quiet, and he fell back to sleep. Next morning the telephone woke Bloch up. He was asked whether he wanted to stay another night. Looking at his briefcase on the floor--the room had no luggage rack--Bloch immediately said yes and hung up. After he had brought in his shoes, which had not been shined, probably because it was Sunday, he left the hotel without breakfast. In the rest room at the South Station he shaved himself with an electric razor. He showered in one of the shower stalls. While getting dressed, he read the sports section and the court reports in the newspaper. Afterwards--he was still reading and it was rather quiet in the adjoining booths--he suddenly felt good. Fully dressed, he leaned against the wall of the booth and kicked his foot against the wooden bench. The noise brought a question from the attendant outside and, when he didn't answer, a knock on the door. When he still didn't reply, the woman outside slapped a towel (or whatever it might be) against the door handle and went away. Bloch finished reading the paper standing up. On the square in front of the station he ran into a man he knew who told him he was going to the suburbs to referee a minor-league game. Bloch thought this idea was a joke and played along with it by saying that he might as well come too, as the linesman. When his friend opened his duffelbag and showed him the referee's uniform and a net bag full of lemons, Bloch saw even those things, in line withthe initial idea, as some kind of trick items from a novelty shop and, still playing along, said that since he was coming too, he might as well carry the duffelbag. Later, when he was with his friend on the local train, the duffelbag in his lap, it seemed, especially since it was lunchtime and the compartment was nearly empty, as though he was going through this whole business only as a joke. Though what the empty compartment was supposed to have to do with his frivolous behavior was not clear to Bloch. That this friend of his was going to the suburbs with a duffelbag; that he, Bloch, was coming along; that they had lunch together at a suburban inn and went together to what Block called "an honest-to-goodness soccer field," all this seemed to him, even while he was traveling back home alone--he had not liked the game--some kind of mutual pretense. None of that mattered, thought Bloch. Luckily, he didn't run into anyone else on the square in front of the station. From a telephone booth at the edge of a park he called his ex-wife; she said everything was okay but didn't ask about him. Bloch felt uneasy. He sat down in a garden café that was still open despite the season and ordered a beer. When, after some time, nobody had brought his beer, he left; besides, the steel tabletop, which wasn't covered by a cloth, had blinded him. He stood outside the windowof a restaurant; the people inside were sitting in front of a TV set. He watched for a while. Somebody turned toward him, and he walked away. In the Prater he was mugged. One thug jerked his jacket over his arms from behind; another butted his head against Bloch's chin. Bloch's knees folded a little, then he gave the guy in front a kick. Finally the two of them shoved him behind a candy stand and finished the job. He fell down and they left. In a rest room, Bloch cleaned off his face and suit. At a café in the Second District he shot some pool until it was time for the sports news on television. Bloch asked the waitress to turn on the set and then watched as if none of this had anything to do with him. He asked the waitress to join him for a drink. When the waitress came out of the back room, where gambling was going on, Bloch was already at the door; she walked past him but didn't speak. Bloch went out. Back at the Naschmarkt, the sight of the sloppily piled fruit and vegetable crates behind the stalls seemed like another joke of some kind, nothing to worry about. Like cartoons, thought Bloch, who liked to look at cartoons with no words. This feeling of pretense, of playing around--this business with the referee's whistle in the duffelbag, thought Bloch--went away only when, in the movie, a comic snitcheda trumpet from a junk shop and started tooting on it in a perfectly natural way; all this was so casual that it almost seemed unintentional, and Bloch realized that the trumpet and all other objects were stark and unequivocal. Bloch relaxed. After t...

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Descrizione libro Farrar, Straus Giroux Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The first of Peter Handke s novels to be published in English, The Goalie s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a true modern classic that portrays the.breakdown of a murderer in ways that recall Camus s The Stranger (Richard Locke, The New York Times). The self-destruction of a soccer goalie turned construction worker who wanders aimlessly around a stifling Austrian border town after pursuing and then murdering, almost unthinkingly, a female movie cashier is mirrored by his use of direct, sometimes fractured prose that conveys at its best a seamless blend of lyricism and horror seen in the runes of a disintegrating world (Bill Marx, Boston Sunday Globe). Limited and Us and Updated to Include New Develop ed. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780374531065

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Descrizione libro Farrar, Straus Giroux Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The first of Peter Handke s novels to be published in English, The Goalie s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a true modern classic that portrays the.breakdown of a murderer in ways that recall Camus s The Stranger (Richard Locke, The New York Times). The self-destruction of a soccer goalie turned construction worker who wanders aimlessly around a stifling Austrian border town after pursuing and then murdering, almost unthinkingly, a female movie cashier is mirrored by his use of direct, sometimes fractured prose that conveys at its best a seamless blend of lyricism and horror seen in the runes of a disintegrating world (Bill Marx, Boston Sunday Globe). Limited and Us and Updated to Include New Develop ed. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780374531065

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