I received this book as a gift, and, prior to reading it, I've never heard of Peter Handke or this work. This is to say that I did not know what to expect. While the cover is not particularly interesting, the strong title grabbed my attention. Also, the front cover blurb mentions Camus's The Stranger. I'm intrigued.
Personally, I did not find much in a way of similarity between this work and Camus's work. I did find a little Kafka, a little Hamsun, a little Leppin...but I was rather surprised by what I did not find: a novel.
This book, to me, is a deconstruction of a novel, a breakdown of rules, plots, relevancy, timelines, and everything else we expect to find in a novel. What is left is a vague beginning, a vague end, and a wild shivaree (minus the newlyweds) in between the two.
Filled with fragmented stream-of-consciousness, the writing jumps from the protagonist (Boch) to any of the characters he encounters and back without pause, clear separation, or warning. At times thoughts can be confused with speech (and vice versa), as Boch moves about from setting to setting, always nonchalant yet deeply affected, bothered by unimportant details while left cold by not only his troublesome downfall but also any tragedies he comes across.
The book deals (supposedly) with the breakdown of a murderer. In my opinion, Boch started spiraling downward way before the book begins, and the murder plays a rather small, insignificant role. The story here is the breakdown of a man numbed by society - a man with a past he cannot touch, without any future he can imagine, living in the moment.
While the psychological breakdown is not as good as, say Walker Winslow's If a Man be Mad, this book is definitely going to stick with me.