The Water Statues
Fiction by Fleur Jaeggy
Translated from the Italian by Gini Alhadeff
Even among Fleur Jaeggy’s singular and intricate works, The Water Statues is a shiningly peculiar book. Concerned with wealth’s loneliness and odd emotional poverty, this early novel is in part structured as a play: the dramatis personae include the various relatives, friends, and servants of a man named Beeklam, a wealthy recluse who keeps statues in his villa’s flooded basement, where memories shiver in uncertain light and the waters run off to the sea.
Dedicated to Ingeborg Bachmann and fleshed out with Jaeggy’s austere yet voluptuous style, The Water Statues—with its band of deracinated, loosely related souls (milling about as often in the distant past as in the mansion’s garden full of intoxicated snails)—delivers like a slap an indelible picture of the swampiness of family life.