‘Helbling’s Story’ by Robert Walser

It’s one of the great challenges of fiction: how to be interesting about boredom? This story walks that line perfectly, capturing the texture of nothingness without succumbing to it. I also love Helbling’s insistence on his own mediocrity, an averageness that is so profound it becomes unique.

First collected in German in Werkausgabe, Verlag Helmut Kossodo, Geneva and Hamburg 1966. Published in English in Selected Stories, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982

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