A Modernist Jigsaw in 110 Pieces

Michael Hofmann at The Paris Review:

Wolfgang Koeppen’s novel Pigeons on the Grass, first published in 1951 as Tauben im Gras, is among the earliest, grandest, and most poetically satisfying reckonings in fiction with the postwar state of the world. What have we done to ourselves? What may we hope for? Is life from now on going to be different? Is it even going to be possible? These are the unasked and unanswerable questions that hover around this great novel composed in bite-size chunks, a cross section of a damaged society presented—natch!—in cutup. I once described it as a “Modernist jigsaw in 110 pieces,” but it is as compulsively readable as Dickens or Elmore Leonard. The form catches the eye, but the content is no slouch either. It must be one of the shortest of the universal books, the ones of which you think, If it isn’t in here, it doesn’t exist.

more here.