All the Stuff

Short stories

Kogu moos

All the Stuff (Short stories, Estonian)
Published by Tuum, 1998, pp. 208

Many younger Estonian writers have taken pains to establish themselves, thus obtaining a certain identity: Kauksi Ülle is the writer who uses a South-Estonian dialect, Emil Tode is the ‘Eurowriter’, Sven Kivisildnik and Peeter Sauter are the writers who use obscene language. If we deconstruct the obscenity of those two, we can find at least two different ways how they do this.
To make it simple, we could say that the heroes of Peeter Sauter are of the kind who hide a sensitive soul behind their outward roughness and obscenity. Sauter very remarkably avoids romanticism, pathos, big and empty words, and beautiful things of all kinds. The so-called obscene language means, in his case, using the words of low style in the position of neutral style. Some critics have said that he uses the words of pornographic (i.e. masculine) discourse in a neutral position.
All the Stuff is a collection of short stories, containing Sauter’s best texts so far, and continues to express the same ideas as his novel Loafing. Loafing drew together short stories to form a novel. Some of the texts of the present book would have fitted into the novel as well, but the author decided to publish them separately.
All the Stuff consists of six stories of equal length (about 30 pages). They are a kind of travel story, which can not be woven into a continuous text, as each story has different characters. Sauter’s main hero is a man, the city his environment. He isn’t active in achieving any certain goal, his course runs the trajectory of everyday life: office, shop, bar, hospital, etc. The scenes describing everyday activities are accompanied by meditations that are often centred on the absurdity of being.
The most controversial story of the collection is “Stomach-ache”, which tells about a man and a woman who go to a maternity hospital, taking their other child with them. The birth of the child is described as seen by the dispassionate eye of the man. This intimate, private, physiological act, which is traditionally considered ennobling, is depicted in a harsh and naturalistic way. The woman giving birth is deaf, she only moans in pain. The man notes anatomical changes using vulgar words. The child is born with blood and shit.
Sauter vulgarises the process, but his hero keeps close, he participates and tries as much as he can to familiarise himself with this otherness (being a woman). He is caring and attentive, and tries to use as exact words as possible to describe all he can.
Sauter’s prose describes his fellow human beings. Its strong points are its directness and exactness, and its disillusioning effect. He knows and depicts the often described world of the so-called small people much better than many other authors. His illusionless and unpoetical world is never hostile or cold, on the contrary, it is as comfortable and homely as everyday life.

Text by Janika Kronberg and Rutt Hinrikus

First published in the Estonian Literary Magazine


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