Konkretion
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Konkretion

Marion May Campbell

By turns funny and moving, konkretion stages a dialogue around the romance of the Baader-Meinhof gang’s revolutionary aspirations. Ex-commo Monique Piquet (aka Monica Picket) meets up in Paris with her former student, Angel Beigesang, who has just published konkretion - a dramatic re-imagining of Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin of the Red Army Faction. Like an old birdie in a familiar stomping ground, Monique bobbles through revolutionary and repressive Paris, recalling her earlier radicalism and its influence on Angel’s dangerous identification with revolutionaries. This gem of a novella is must-read for anyone interested in language, politics, history, Paris, Baader-Meinhof, revolution, academia, romance, culture, irony…

Review

This is Marion May Campbell’s fifth work of fiction and, although she may not be a household name, her writing has won several awards and received much critical acclaim. konkretion is a challenging read and will perhaps not be entirely accessible to all, but we should be thankful that we still have a book industry (if only just) that supports intelligent and experimental writing.

In the first few pages the main character, Monique Piquet, asks herself, ‘why always words; why do you have to have your main character writing, Monique? Can’t you imagine anyone not being a writer? No it’s as if you can’t.’ The act of writing and the potency of words are central to this book. Monique is a novelist and academic and has travelled to Paris to meet with the author of konkretion, Angel Beigesang. Angel is a former student of Monique’s and she has written a work that reads like prose poetry (large sections are included in the book) that re-imagines the life of Ulrike Meinhof and her entry into the Red Army Faction.

konkret was the name of the left-leaning German magazine established in 1957 by Klaus Rainer Röhl. Ulrike was konkret’s editor and wrote about the protests of Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin, ultimately leading to her own participation in the group.

While on her way to meet Angel, Monique wanders through Paris and reflects on her own life in Melbourne and the revolutionary ideals she once held. Although this is a demanding read, it is genuinely rewarding – it’s not often that Australian fiction propels the reader so far out of their comfort zone that the world takes on a slightly different gleam, if only for a moment.


Kara Nicholson is from Readings Carlton

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