Monday, January 14, 2019

Book Review: 'The Day Before You Came' by Martin Freiner

The Day Before You Came by Martin Freiner

“I never lacked discipline- I lacked motivation"

When author Martin Freiner was asked the inspiration for this savage novel, he answered ‘Life around me. Most of the characters are real persons, described just the way I see them. Deviation from the overall objectivity makes them more alive and more inspirational. All of us live in an age of double standards and unique acceptance of extremes, hidden in our everyday life.’ This is Martin’s debut novel and from the impact felt after reading it, it seems we have a powerful new voice who is unafraid to examine the underbelly of society.

Martin courageously open his book with a letter from the protagonist to “L” – ‘I still miss you, I know its been hard for you sine we broke up. I never loved anyone as much as I did you. I never lied to you about this: you gave me the most beautiful ten years of my life. I lied to you about all the rest, though. I don’t know why I almost shot you that night and why I called an ambulance and ended up in the psychiatric clinic….Please find this collection of stories form my life as my sincere attempt to explain who you really lived wit for more than ten years….’

That is the opening of the door to this coming of age novel set in Vienna – a novel that relates experiences with drugs, sex, manipulation, immorality and unethical values as a young man grows into adulthood. 

The language is harsh and filled with expletives as is appropriate for the character conversations and thoughts, and the substance of this short in length but long in impact novel is best outlined in the synopsis – ‘The son of an affluent father in post-communist country, the unnamed protagonist first discovers the utter magnetism of girls at the tender age of nine. As a teen, the sheer power and pull of sex begins to shape his life, leading to sexual encounters—some magical, some empty—with girls he first knew as playmates and with new girls he meets. As he grows up and begins to puzzle the nature and behavior of girls, he finds girlfriends can’t give him what he really wants, what he comes to crave: dirty sex. No girl who catches his eye is off-limits for an encounter—not his friends’ girls, not even his brother’s. His unfettered desires coupled with all the money he needs mean clubs and brothels gladly open their doors to the heaven that is paid sex, while his kind and decent girlfriends are labeled as potential future mothers—on the other side of the big wall, as he comes to regard them. Fueled by cocaine and alcohol, his life descends into “drink, snort, and sex.” As he loses all respect for women and most everyone around him, the love and loyalty of his family will be tested to the full.’

A gripping novel and a most impressive debut, the reader is left wondering where the next novel will take us. Strong writing about a difficult subject. Raw and confrontational and mesmerizing. 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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