The Yellow Sailor
By Steven Weiner
(Overlook Press, Hardcover, 9781585671694, 220pp.)
Publication Date: October 2001
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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His extraordinary new novel, moodily operatic in tone and by turns hallucinatory and brilliantly detailed, follows the trajectories of four sailors and the owner of a German merchant ship, Yellow Sailor, which sets sail from Bremen in 1914. After the ship wrecks in shallow water, the men drift their separate ways, with each man's journey across a desolate wartime Euorpean landscape becoming an exploration of the failure of love, sex, religion, and friendship. Julius Bernai, owner of the ship and frankly homosexual, checks into an institute for nervous disorders and falls in love with the doctor's fiancee. Nicholas Bremml drifts: from the beds of numerous prostitutes to an oil tanker called Erwartung -- Expectation -- to Prague's Jewish market, where he sells magic spells. Brothers Karl and Alois are equally rudderless, and Jacek, the electrician, goes to work in the mines, where his love advice to a fourteen year old Polish boy precipitates a macabre murder.
Elegantly grotesque and baroquely compelling, The Yellow Sailor is a chiaroscuroed search for love, dimly and briefly lit by flashes of hope, until gorgeous hallucinations beckoning with a seductive nothingness overwhelm the bleak and tentative future.