Loafing (Novels, Estonian)
Published by Maa, 1997, pp. 280

Peeter Sauter is a writer, whose texts render very organically the feeling and vitality of his period, and especially one segment of this vitality. Sauter constantly writes one and the same endless story, as he himself points out on the cover of his book: "A book without a beginning or an end. Open it wherever you like. Estonian prose." Loafing, some parts of which have already been published either in literary magazines or in Sauter’s earlier novel Indigo, presents trivial descriptive slices of life. The first person protagonist exists; he eats, sleeps with women, drinks, and declares: "I want simply to be. I want to be an empty and bored nobody." But simply being is still not enough for him, because sometimes he feels that even this is burdensome, or reflects: "Everything repeats itself. Activities repeat themselves, and so do thoughts." And in another passage: "I feel as if I am selling my own life to myself. I’ve learned that at school, and from literature, which describes life and this way kind of adds value to it." Describing being is this way equated with finding a value for existence. The constant inner monologue, alternating with direct speech, renders in fragmentary detail the experiences and attitudes of the main character, as well as those of his generation. But even Sauter’s loafer has, without himself realising it, become a part of society, and he is not particularly reluctant to let his long puberty come to an end. Putting himself to the test by going to England, he becomes convinced that everything is just the same everywhere else. On coming back, he becomes almost what could be termed a family man. He no longer enjoys endless playing truant together with the endless question - where to go? He discovers that even drinking is different than it used to be and that he himself is different from his old self.

Sauter’s prose feeds directly on everyday life, he uses spoken language more frequently than other authors, he has provoked indignation because of his obscene language and descriptions of physiological acts (for example, giving birth). He has repeatedly declared that all words are equal, denying the interrelatedness of different levels of style and vocabulary. Sauter’s prose has been termed an altruistic prose, his depiction of people is humanist, his loafer is clearly antagonistic to the cult of success, characteristic of the present Estonian society. Sauter can well be considered the Estonian Kureishi.

Text by Janika Kronberg and Rutt Hinrikus

First published in the Estonian Literary Magazine

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