After many years in the USA, Reinhard Lettau finally returned to Germany in 1991, hoping to find the peace and the time to write all the books he had denied both himself and his admirers. For not only did Lettau himself have many plans, readers addicted to his eccentric style and twisted humour were clamouring for new tales. When his debut, Schwierigkeiten beim Häuserbauen, was first published in 1962 – rapidly going into several editions and translated in ten languages – it was widely assumed that this strange writer who told stories with a deftness of touch then unknown in Germany would continue in this vein. However, his next book, Auftritt Manigs, already took a different tack. Lettau had distilled his stories so much that they fit effortlessly onto a single page. This literary minimalism made him famous and provided the title for his first, long out-of-print prose collection, Immer kürzer werdende Geschichten. With his last book, Flucht vor Gästen, published two years before his death, he returned to a "longer" form: his only novel amounted to just a hundred pages.
The present volume is an omnibus of all of Lettau's prose books, the works of a "playful rationalist" (Fritz J. Raddatz), a language-artist who mastered his trade "as few writers in German literature could or can" (Joachim Kaiser), and, on top of everything, a man able to write stories that "make one roar with laughter" (Urs Widmer). Reinhard Lettau remains an unforgotten and unforgettable "special case" in German post-war literature.