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A Door to Door Novel: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

A Door to Door Novel: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Residential buildings are more than backgrounds in literature and film: Dominic Barta describes neighborhood and other relationships – but there is still an ‘external’.

Very Austrian! The idea inevitably arises when reading Dominic Barta’s novel From Door to Door. You can literally see the Wiener Genossenschaftshaus in the 6th district in front of you with its quirky residents, some of whom have lived here forever. Kurt, in his early thirties, now lives here too: in his aunt’s apartment in the attic. He quickly dived deep into the neighborhood – and was almost surprising in the era of the new Biedermeier, when many had already withdrawn from society. Barta’s novel is filled with complex and mysterious characters – humor often flashes, but the events of the dark world are no exception.

He recognizes his immediate neighbour, Paul Dreschler, by irritating sounds such as coughing, slapping his lips, and flushing the toilet, all of which are clearly audible through the walls. But when he actually confronts Dreschler, “the most vulgar person in the world” to complain, he only politely introduces himself and returns to his apartment “enchanted.” The two become friends—and are soon joined by the “new neighbor who’s spoiled our whole lives”: behavioral biologist Regina, about the same age as Kurt, moves up to the fourth floor. The first meeting with Regina was not quite right, as she brought him boxer shorts with holes: “Is these for you?” Perhaps it was not intended as a compliment, she later said: “I immediately felt that you were a teacher. There are usually teachers who cannot be confused.” and: “She took me as a member of the humanities faction. Regina instinctively assigned me not to gymnasiums and gyms, but to seminar rooms and libraries. She put me into Judith Butler’s faction to tell me indirectly that she already knew I was gay.”

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