Seven Years by Peter Stamm: What are the young and unambitious to do?

What is a man, too post-modern, to have any real ambition and too engulfed in the abundance of post-cold-war west, to do with his life?

He is caught up in a cold relationship with a thoroughly modern, self-aware, stiff, successful wife and a kid whose welfare concerns seem pre-historic, strangely alien and lowly to him while his incompetence at emotion seem deliberate and obvious.

This is the theme of Peter Stamm's generally depressing tale of "7 Years". A theme that periodically raises its head every few decade when the great war of its times has ended and the young are left with nothing to torture.

Our near absolute freedom and general affluence seems to have coopted our will to strive for anything really great or important in any meaningful way. Locked in a self-keyed prison with media and alcohol as guard and chaplain seems to have eroded the human tenacity that through centuries of strife enabled this somnambulism and is now asking for its 7th day in a long long weekend.

What is such a condition to do?

It could make an attempt at an escape. Modern world alas provides many trap doors.

A self-defeating, implausible illicit relationship with a strangely submissive woman seems as good as any.

It would be too simplistic to describe the characters as being lost. Being lost indicates at least some real helplessness. This lethargy is largely self-inflicted and the numbness self-imposed.

Something cloying and unnervingly real that Stamm manages to unfold. It is like something gruesome that offends you and yet still you cannot turn your eyes away. 

If you don't see the surrounding world in the characters then it is largely your own denial.