THE GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK (Peter Handke) — first paragraph

Starting to take a close look at this book (translation Michael Roloff). Here is the interesting first paragraph, with observations:

When Joseph Bloch, a construction worker who had been a well-known soccer goalie, reported for work that morning, he was told that he was fired. At least that was how he interpreted the fact that no one except the foreman looked up from his coffee break when he appeared at the door of the construction shack, where the workers happened to be at that moment, and Blck left the building site. Out on the street he raised his arm, but the car that drove past — even though Block hadn’t been hailing a cab– was not a cab. Then he heard the sound of brakes in front of him. Bloch looked around: behind him there was a cab; its driver started swearing. Blach turned around, got in, and told the driver to take him to the Naschmarkt.

First & Second Sentences

(a.) The narrator tells us, first sentence, Bloch “was told” he was fired — doesn’t say “he learned” or “suspected” he was fired, but that he “was told” as a statement of fact.

The narrator tells us, second sentence, this was at least how Bloch had “interpreted” the situation, in which, in fact, no one had “told” him anything.

It appears, then, that what Bloch merely infers he experiences as something actually said.

(b.) The fact that Bloch’s co-workers are taking a break implies they have already been working and that Bloch has arrived late for work.

(c.) For comparison, this is the first sentence of The Trial: “Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested.”

Final Four Sentences

In the paragraph’s final four sentences a lot happens in short order: (i) Bloch raises his arm as if to hail a cab, but the car moving past is not a cab and he had not been hailing one; (ii) he hears braking in front of him, looks around, and discovers behind him a cab with a swearing driver. (iii) Bloch turns around, gets in the cab, tells the driver to take him to the Naschmarkt.

Q: Why did Bloch raise his arm if he wasn’t hailing a cab?
Q: Why, hearing the sound of brakes in front of him, does Bloch look around behind him? (Is Bloch in the street?)
Q: Who is the cab driver swearing at? At the source of the braking sound? At Bloch?
Q: What are we to make of the fact that Bloch’s raising his arm — not to hail a cab– in the presence of a car that was not a cab — resulted in him stopping and getting into a cab?
Q: Is there any parallel with soccer here?

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