Dreaming Vienna begins with two prefaces: one quoting Mark Twain on how novels carry their authors away, the other listing 36 kinds of dreams discussed by Freud. The prefaces foreground a tension between objective and subjective realities. How, exactly, does one believe a novel or interpret a dream? And what exactly does Vienna symbolize, especially for Americans? In Dreaming Vienna, subjective reactions generally prevail over conventional expectations. Conley is especially adept at painting the shadows and fogs which surround his characters, creating moments of confusion, chaos, despondency, acceptance, and wisdom.
Thus, Felix Kulpa ("Happy Fault" in Latin) struggles to find meaning in St. Louis, MO, first in his family's Catholicism, then in philosophical systems, and finally in Vienna where, in a joyous explosion of passionate folly, he dies. Kulpa's experiences resonate. His cousin Victor barely escapes sexual abuse by a priest, but carries scars from Missouri to Vienna, where he "researches the priesthood." The very word, "research" changes meaning as Viennese students bicker over versions of stories or mock pretentious mentors.
There's a carnival feel to large sections of Dreaming Vienna as characters pass near one another without quite meeting--leaving traces, overlapping moods, fragrances, fragments, memories of bickering brothers, a guilt-ridden veteran, snow-covered children and orange-clad streetcleaners. To tour guides, Vienna may symbolize cultural depth, artistic aspiration, and human achievement, but for Conley those interpretations are radically incomplete. Only the gold-tipped cane of the mysterious Herr Winklemann can offer reliable direction; only rugs handmade by a one-armed feminist can keep readers fully warm.
Author: Timothy K. Conley
Publisher: Golden Antelope Press
Binding Type: Paperback
Size: 7.81h x 5.06w x 0.59d