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Windows on the AbyssWindows on the Abyss

K. M. Hartmann

  • Family Drama
  • Literary/Contemporary

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Why I wrote this book

The book sets out to relate authentic experiences to, in this way, achieve a deeper appreciation of these experiences. It records the agonising breakdown of a mind suddenly confronted by a tragedy that is, for the most part, of its own making. The breakdown is recorded as a cascade of confused and contradictory thoughts raging through this mind and terminating in violent emotional outbursts.

Most books dealing with the topic leave off here. Windows on the Abyss, in contrast, augments the foregoing highly subjective description with a more objective or rational analysis, based on currently accepted scientific paradigms. The rational analysis is effortlessly incorporated into the storyline. A further difference to other works consists in the use of a poetic dimension to accommodate features of the breakdown which still remain (and perhaps always will) outside the confines of rational analysis. Yet another unusual feature is the independent telling of relevant events by two persons, the one, emotionally very close to the person suffering the breakdown but cut off from him, and the other, the sufferer himself.

Certain episodes in Windows on the Abyss bear a resemblance to the writing of Ann Kavan in Eagle’s Nest, … of Jacques Chessex in The Tyrant and of Enrique Vila-Matas in Dublinesque.


The death of George's mother triggers in him guilt-riddled memories of the breakup of his marriage and his subsequent neglect of both wife and mother. He relates in a polyphony of voices the build-up to a series of breakdowns and his eventual confinement in a clinic. These voices are interleaved with the voice of his estranged wife, Amanda. The voices echo off each other, revealing their lives to be so intertwined that they must reunite after George has recovered. The reunion is, however, short-lived. George is again stranded with guilt-riddled memories that refuse to fade. George attempts to understand his extreme states of mind not on Freud's by now creaky couch, but rather in terms of current ideas in neurobiology and quantum physics. During the meanderings of his mind, he touches also upon the ultimate questions of existence. He attempts at the same time to find, through poetry, a form that will accommodate the mess that's in his head.


JOEL STICKLEY, author of “100 Ways to Write Badly Well” A powerful and thought-provoking book, hugely ambitious in terms of both intellectual content and characterisation.

JAMES PUSEY, The Literary Consultancy There is much to admire in the writing: the immediacy of the images, the ability to ‘nail’ a particular feeling or perception with a single phrase and the convincing portrayal of extreme emotional states. The combined influence of scientific thinking and poetry produce an intriguing cocktail.

About the Author

K. M. Hartmann Kurt M. Hartmann was born in Hungary and educated in South Africa and the UK. He is a physicist and a former consultant to the German government on technological matters. He lives in the Munich area.

Book info

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256 pages


K. M. Hartmann


Matador an imprint of Troubador Publishing

Publication date

1st March 2013