The plot is as light as can be, starting with Asle going and rescuing the other Asle as he descends toward alcoholic incapacity and taking him to a clinic to dry out, then looking after his dog. But as Fosse has said, “You don’t read my books for the plots. But it’s not because I want to be a difficult writer. I’ve never tried to write in a complicated way. I always try to write as simply and, I hope, as deeply as I possibly can.” This is borne out by what Fosse terms his “slow prose” – where elegant variation is eschewed in favour of hypnotic repetition. The Other Name is not difficult to read because the repetition and the endless commas give it the hypnotic feeling of a mantra.
In 2018 Fitzcarraldo published his short-story collection Scenes from a Childhood. This proved to be a taster for a more ambitious project: the Septology series, of which The Other Name is the first instalment, is billed as a three-volume septet, featuring not a single full stop throughout. Such is his command of the rhythm of his prose, nimbly and hauntingly translated by Damion Searls, that the omission is barely noticeable, and after a while, engagingly welcome. The work simply loops and flows. The style is formal, yet with a sense of restlessness. As for plot, there is plenty.