Melitta Breznik's first novel opens in an operating room as a young female physician performs an autopsy on a man who had liver disease. This stark and clinical scene sets the stage for another kind of autopsy as the young pathologist reexamines her own life and the lives of her troubled family: her brothers, her dead mother, and her trying father now dying in a nearby hospital ward for alcoholics. Her reflections come to the reader as a stream-of-consciousness outpouring -- an "uncovering of one piece of memory after the other" -- that is at once dreamlike and yet utterly real, and all accomplished with a surgical care for detail and nuance. "This unerringly hushed narration, with its chillingly precise psychological gesture", wrote the Swiss news magazine Facts, "shows how liberating an insistent language can be when functioning as an engine of memory, when, both struggling against and accepting every last bit of pain, someone dares to plumb the all too familiar abyss of family relations".
The only way I can describe this novel is as a type of formal stream of consciousness in the first person. It alternates between stream of consciousness and first person narration, which makes it unique and personal.
It's about a daughter who although her father was an alcoholic who was oftentimes absent, she has a love for him that is part need and part duty. Through her autopsies of others she is reminded and immersed into her past and autopsies her own life through both analysis and memories.
The writing flows nicely and the story is well developed. You get to know the protagonist, the daughter, as her work and family history defines her.