Wolfgang Hegewald portrayed the year 2020 and called the resulting book "Daily Rates - A Year's Novel". The term "sentences" has two meanings, referring to musical and linguistic aspects. Hegewald calls the entries for the individual days “day sonatas”, here too he alludes to musical principles. The subtitle "Novel of a Year" makes it clear that the author is concerned with aesthetic categories and the form of the narrative. From the year 2020 he develops a literary reality, a novel. Hegewald says: "I don't write a diary. I compose notes. Long live the difference!” The artist replaces the accountant, the designed material takes the place of the raw material, the score replaces the inventory.

The beginning of the Corona crisis and the election of the American President are formative for this year. Hegewald combines collective and personal events. His failed election as President of the Free Academy in Hamburg comes up frequently, as does the question of a suitable cemetery for one's own grave. The topicality of the year is partly superficial, the author uses the journal form to remember, for example, his hometown Dresden, an earlier encounter with Daniel Kehlmann or his appearance at the Bachmann Prize in 1984. The death of Guntram Vesper tempted him to to look for his letters.

Hegewald's method is the commentary, the main text is the events of the year 2020. In a "postscript" he writes: "A sonata has three movements. A daily sonata is created from three sentences from a daily newspaper; Random and occasional compositions. Scattered into the annual notes.” In this way his project is similar to Uwe Johnson's “Anniversaries”, in which the news from the “New York Times” plays an important role. In the individual daily sonatas, however, it remains unclear what the author has taken from the newspaper, what is his own observation, what is quoted or paraphrased. Hegelwald's language is poetic, he translates news into metaphors and comparisons, shortens statements, exaggerates them or confronts them with unexpected considerations. Points reappear as leitmotifs, such as a situation with Elke Heidenreich,who pouted in a talk show that she was unwilling to leave her house for a reading before forty Hansel. Hegewald is concerned here with attention, with the question of the public perception of books.

The material is not inflationary, but selected

The book is worth reading because of the irony with which Hegewald meets the events.

On March 3, 2020 he wrote: "What a carefree year for people with a washing compulsion." He calls the series "Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten" "the continuation of the currywurst with other means".

He describes how the execution of John Hummel, who was sentenced to death, had to be postponed due to the coronavirus because it was a gathering of more than ten people.

He concludes by saying, "We are all temporary."

There are parallels to Ernst Jiinger's notes, for example to the fifth volume of "Siebzig Gone" for example, in which reflections on Stalingrad stand alongside thoughts on artificial insemination.

Hegewald works in a similar way when he begins each day's sonata with three movements that act like chords.

Sometimes they are loosely linked, sometimes the context is obvious.

A stay in Rome leads Hegewald to remember meeting Jiinger in 1987 at the Villa Massimo, when the author of the "Tagsatze" was a scholarship holder there;

he spoke to Jiinger when he met Jorge Luis Borges.

Jiinger then sent him a signed photo showing him with the Argentine author.

His instrument is the laconic

So Hegewald uses a method that can be described in Henry Miller's words as "your anecdotal life". He gives insights into his life, describes events that are important to him as a person. The material is not inflationary, but selected, composed. Hegewald is not a recorder, he does not deal with every day of the year. The gravity of the book emanates from the subject, from the narrator, who is very close to the author. To what extent Hegewald stylizes himself, to what extent he creates an image of himself that deviates from his person, is difficult to decide. Using the term "novel" gives him an opportunity to expand his experiences into the realm of the imagination. His old alter ego, Nathan Cute, appears several times in the book.The decisive factor in his project, however, is the literary illusion. The reader moves in a world of language, is drawn into an artistic context.

Hegewald's strength is aphorism.

"If anyone ever wanted to set the term narcissism to music, the selfie drone would probably be the hottest sound contender at the moment," he writes in the daily sonata of January 5th.

The author does not want to argue, to convince logically, his tool is laconicism, the attempt to present the essence of an assertion in a few words.

Wolfgang Hegewald:

"Daily rates"


novel of a year.

Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2021. 285 p., hardcover, 24 euros.