I Know What I’m Doing / Hans Koning[sberger] (1964)

I am a fan of Koning’s unfairly neglected work and I was excited to find a first edition hardback of this book at Gould’s Book Arcade in Sydney on the weekend. But this is the weakest novel of his I’ve read yet.

I usually like Koning’s sparse prose. At its best – such as in The Revolutionary – it is poignant and evocative. Yet in this work, the sparse plainness is all. It is a simple novel of an ordinary girl’s hesitation between two men. It didn’t feel like there were hidden depths: there was only surface.

He  explored similar themes much better in the earlier American Romance.

Most of the novel is in first person with occasional chapters in third person. I don’t know what it would take to make this work, but it doesn’t work here. I think the voices would need to be differentiated enough for it to matter, for there to seem to be a reason to be doing it. As it was, it only interrupted the flow.