This slim book seems to draw readymade comparisons to Camus’s L’Étranger, which I think is a very poor way to approach Handke’s novella. While both texts deal with a man in an existential crisis and while there are murders, the similarities end there. Camus is concerned with the dissolution of a specific kind of French masculine identity; Handke’s subject matter here is analogous, but this is a text very rooted in Austrian anxieties in the late-1960s.If anything, The Goalie... should draw comparisons to Kafka. Handke’s use of time, disorientation, the limits of language and discourse, and also the uncanny sense of reality mirroring dreams (and vice versa) are much more indebted to Kafka than to Camus.Bloch is a difficult character to follow, and Handke enjoys confusing the reader to mimic Bloch’s own mental state. Some of the scenes are bafflingly nonsensical, while others play on puns and linguistic turns of phrases in unique ways. Here’s a short example of the latter:“Gradually, when he said something now, he himself reappeared in what he said. The landlady asked him to stay for lunch. Bloch, who had planned to stay at her place anyway, refused.”This is much more of a Kafkaesque refusal. An example of how lost in language Bloch is, but juxtaposed against a legalese in which he cannot share (thus emphasizing his isolation):“The policemen, who made the usual remarks, nevertheless seemed to mean something entirely different by them; at least they purposely mispronounced phrases like ‘got to remember’ and ‘take off’ as ‘goats you remember’ and ‘take-off’ and, just as purposely, let their tongues slide over others, saying ‘whitewash?’ instead of ‘why watch?’ and ‘closed, or’ instead of ‘close door.’ ”There’s something almost Lacanian in Handke’s playful and yet deranged handling of language and alienation in this witty and puzzling book.