Where did Lena Deflores go

Lena Müller: Remaining holes

Lena Müller's debut novel “Restlöcher” is a quiet love story, a journey into the past and at the same time a story of awakening and liberation. There is a lot in these slim 124 pages: longings, coping and lots of poetry.

“Restlöcher” with its beautiful cover jumped up to me on Instagram when it arrived fresh from the print at Edition Nautilus and was unpacked for the first time. So first there was the love of the cover, then a fixed research on the author and press release and it was clear: Sounds like my book! I already knew that Lena Müller had received several awards for her translations from French, but I hadn't read any of her texts. So I approached the reading quite freely and without certain linguistic or stylistic expectations and “breathed away” “remaining holes” in one go (in the absence of a more appropriate word).

Of loneliness and search

We get to know Sando. Sando, who loves the fox, a shy young man who does not allow himself to be caught or even tamed. He sneaks into Sandos quite suddenly and clandestinely until the two of them share an apartment and a mattress, only to disappear again into nowhere. But Sando has learned that love, like the fox itself, cannot be retrieved or captured; there is nothing left but to wait and see if a love comes back. He understood this early on when his mother Clara left her bourgeois life with Dieter and at times also Sando in order to realize her dream of studying.

Lena Müller describes this closeness and simultaneous distance between Sando and the fox so quietly and delicately, unfolds it within a few passages in this narrow band. Sando's loneliness and vulnerability can be experienced almost physically. At the latest when talking to his sister Mili, you can feel how lonely and searching Sando is:

“You laugh, but it's serious. I attract solitudes, they jump at me from everywhere. My neighbor across the street, for example. His loneliness wakes me up at night, even though it is definitely twenty meters as the crow flies between his window and my window. Honest. I am lying in my bed blinded even though my eyes are closed. He's sitting in his armchair in front of these bare walls ... He's robbing me of sleep. " Lena Müller in “Restlöcher”, p. 39

Sando is waiting for the intangible fox and at the same time is looking for his mother Clara, because Clara has left Dieter again.

A search in the past

Sando's search takes us back in time. A past in which Clara went to West Berlin with him and his sister Mili to study and make her dreams come true. An escape from bourgeois life, life as a mother and housewife. Sando and Mili grow up in the student village in Schlachtensee between shared bathroom and kitchen in a world of young adults. Lena Müller paints a warm and soulful picture of a caring community. A community that philosophizes about the world over red wine and cigarettes, builds cardboard castles to hide from the census and supports Clara in this new life.

Dieter, who comes to visit every two weeks, becomes a foreign body, unable to fit into his wife's new life. Worlds collide. Dieter's orderly world of the nuclear family and Clara's world. The world of a strong woman who stands up for her goals and visions and first had to break out of the common world for this.

“She notices that it is boiling down to something for a long time: when you have announced that you are going, you are already on your way. It doesn't exist, the point in time when it is still in the balance, like a seesaw where you don't yet know where it is going, there is always an overhang on one side or the other. " Lena Müller in “Restlöcher”, p. 86 f.

Who Should Read This Book?

  • Anyone who believes that children inevitably have to grow up in a traditional small family.
  • Anyone who wants to understand a little better the hurdles women and mothers had to and must overcome in order to achieve their goals. And also everyone who would like to understand that taking these hurdles once does not necessarily have to be permanent.
  • Everyone who is looking for a quiet story that does not have to be loud at any time in order to convey the emotions and needs of its protagonist.

And with me like that?

I really liked “Remaining Holes”, both stylistically and in terms of content. I also found the manageable length perfect, as Lena Müller, with her pointed and accurate style, manages to convey everything that is needed for this story without overloading the text. That doesn't mean, of course, that I don't necessarily want to read more from her - I really want to and very much hope that “Restlöcher” won't be her last novel.

I expected a queer love story, a story of longing and the mutual weighing of closeness and distance. That's exactly what I got, but also an unexpected bonus: the story of a woman and mother who breaks out of it and finds herself at a time shaped by the small family and the front yard.

Information about the book at a glance

  • Edition Nautilus
  • Bound with dust jacket, 128 pages
  • ISBN: 978-3-96054-249-0
  • March 2021

Thanks to Edition Nautilus at this point for the review copy!