In this excerpt from the novel Twelve Circles, photographer Karl-Joseph Zumbrunnen takes leave of his earthly body and experiences an unexpected lightness of being. It is just before dawn on Easter Sunday, but he does not turn toward the resurrection of the rising sun; he sets instead on a westward flight, away from the Ukrainian town where he was killed, toward Vienna. His journey will follow the contour of the oval formed by the Carpathian Mountains, the center of Europe, according to the text, and take him from Transylvania, along the Danube, to a light-filled crowded stadium to which he is admitted after having answered a ritual question. The topography of his itinerary is matched by the topology of his memory, as he sees a forlorn lover working on the 112th page of a draft letter, various lovers sleeping in each other’s arms, and the train stations that were to be the subject of his next project. When his astral body is absorbed by the light of the stadium, the author takes leave of his readers, but not before knocking on wood.

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