This is a short book translated from the German. The author, Matthias Politycki, is one of the most successful literary German authors, but he's not well known over here in Canada. I think I first read of this book on the excellent book blog Kimbofo.typepad.com. Reading books in translation from other countries is like solo travelling, without a tour group but with an invisible tour guide. We get to meet the people, meet the natives. Everything is familiar yet different, seen from an unfamiliar angle.
The story is about a professor, married for many years, who finds his wife dead from a stroke. As he goes through her papers and writings, he discovers that their lives weren't as he thought. Same events, different perspectives. She was editing a manuscript he had started and abandoned years earlier, and wrote copious notes in it and around it. His wife's voice finally emerges from within his own writings. He finally listens to his wife, but it is too late.
"Being dead, he thought, means first and foremost that you can’t apologise, can’t forgive and be reconciled, there’s nothing left to be forgiven, only to be forgotten. Or rather there’s nothing to be forgotten, only forgiven." The big themes - the arc of marriage, the mirages we choose to believe in, communication and misunderstanding, death -- all in a slim binding of just 138 pages.