Picknick der Friseure

Picknick der Friseure; Hairdressers’ Picnic (1996)

This is Hoppe’s second collection of short stories, and not her first collection, as is erroneously claimed in her fictional autobiography Hoppe (2012).

It is a delightful and haunting collection of short texts, many of which have an oneiric quality like old silent films.

This collection contains the following twenty stories:

1. Die Handlanger; The Odd-Job Men.

Rejected by her lover, the narrator has a brief encounter with a gardner, before having dinner with the son of a soft drinks manufacturer. Then she notices the director of the brass band in the park...

2. Der Balkon; The Balcony.

The narrator stands in a queue and is beaten by the house manager; meanwhile, his aunt has a balcony which she lets by the hour to fresh air fanatics. Occasionally one of them falls off the balcony…

3. Die Pilger; The Pilgrims.

The narrator’s father hates costumes; when he catches the mother wearing a bright red wig in the bathroom he throws her out. The narrator’s hair turns red and so her father takes her on a pilgrimage to a sacred spring in order to cure her.

4. Picknick der Friseure; Hairdressers’ Picnic.

Every May the hairdressers come to town. When they come, grandmother nails the door shut and covers the windows, but we escape through the cellar and enter into the hairdressers’ service.

5. Am Saum; On the Seam.

The narrator’s father gives up his job as a village schoolteacher and starts writing a book about the European hare. A senior civil servant allocates him a man to bring him books on the European hare. Soon there is a tower of books which the father climbs.

6. Das Refektorium; The Refectory.

In a dining hall on a cruise ship, a passenger hears a voice murmuring prayers.

7. Die Wichte; The Goblins.

Two miniature guests covered in snow enter a hotel and cause a stir.

8. Hochgewachsene Männer; Tall Men.

The narrator’s grandfather is a tailor whose clients include kings, bishops and diplomats. In the spring there is a rebellion.

9. Kopf und Kragen; Head and Collar.

The narrator’s head is too big; he is put in a cage and trained to be a dancing bear by his one-legged father who glues matchboxes and takes him on the road.

10. Die Sommerverbrecher; The Summer Criminals.

One morning the narrator’s father disappears – did he fall off the tower of the museum for work and unhappiness?

11. Die Mitte des Lebens; The Middle of Life.

A lawyer gives his son some money for the journey. On the train the son starts playing cards with two men and loses his money (here one is reminded of Pinocchio and Emil and the Detectives).

12. Am Zoll; At the Customs Office.

The story describes the death of the uncle, a customs officer who hates travelling. One hot day he goes to the beach and meets a woman with small hands…

13. Die Hecke; The Hedge.

Three siblings are trying to sell their parents’ house, but someone or something seems to be hiding in the hedge behind the house…

14. Die Zeugen; The Witnesses.

The narrator’s father gambles everything away. The mother leaves and so the narrator washes the father’s shirts and ties.

15. Ritter und Duellanten; Knights and Duellists.

A knight in armour appears and the duellists laugh at him. The narrator, who lives in the duellists’ coach, lifts the knight’s visor and pours a cup of tea into the opening.

16. Was nicht ist; What is not.

On a train to the sea, the narrator sits in a compartment with a man who is reading a newspaper. The man starts talking about the sky to her and then he holds her hand.

17. Leben und Werk; Life and Work.

The poorly shaved lovers wait at street corners for the narrator to finish her work, but she knows that one day she will have to watch the face of the miller’s beautiful daughter who spins straw into gold (this is a reference to Rumpelstiltskin).

18. Am See; On the Lake.

Luise marries the blacksmith because he found the spot she had no idea about, just under her right knee. The smith floods the valley of troubles and pains with red wine, but hostile rumours begin to circulate in the village…

19. Die Hochzeit; The Wedding.

The innkeeper’s son falls in love with the bride and smashes his tray down on the trumpeter’s head. The bride howls and tries to crawl under the table; the guests tear her veil to pieces.

20. Not und Tugend; Necessity and Virtue.

The narrator and his or her brother dream of catching girls in butterfly nets. They visit a zoo full of children and throw nuts at them. Later they get to a ship and the sailors throw nuts at them.

This collection has been translated into Dutch, French and Turkish.

Some of these stories have been translated into English, in The Chicago Review issues 48:2/3 (2002) and 58:1 (2013), and in Grand Street magazine between 1997 and 1999.