The Piano Teacher, Paperback Book

The Piano Teacher Paperback

Part of the Serpent's Tail Classics series

4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Erika Kohut teaches piano at the Vienna Conservatory by day.

By night she trawls the porn shows of Vienna. Until one day, into Erika's secretive, repressed life bounds music student and ladies man, Walter Klemmer.

With Walter as her student - and teacher - Erika spirals out of control, consumed by the ecstacy of self-destruction.


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The piano teacher is Erika. She lives with her cold and controlling mother. Their relationship is dysfunctional, physically abusive and emotionally manipulative. It is also a co-dependent relationship and like nothing I have ever read or witnessed. But it does go a long way in explaining how there are some very messed up people out there.Erika is and has been under her mothers control since childhood. Although she is now an adult and her mother elderly, Erika must be home on time and if out, will be phoned many times. Partly her mother does this to be sure of Erika's safety but mostly to assert her control over her daughter and to maintain ownership of her life. Erika's strict upbringing within a training regime to become a concert pianist is the guise under which this level of control has been allowed to escalate.When Erika finds a student has an interest in her, she sees an opportunity to explore the self-loathing (see quote) part of herself even more, and to see if her admirer will partake. "Rot between her legs, an unfeeling soft mass. Decay, putrescent lumps of organic material. No spring breezes awaken anything. It is a dull pile of petty wishes and mediocre desires, afraid of coming true." (p 197)Unable to express herself other than through anger or pain, she makes this request by a lengthy and disturbingly specific letter. Klemmer, her much younger suitor, is thrilled by the chase, but has neither the emotional maturity to respond to her requests appropriately, nor the restraint to hold back his anger. "Klemmer feels superior to other night people, who are wandering along, holding some lady's hands. He feels superior to them because his anger is a lot hotter than the fire of love." (p 252)The resulting fiasco is possibly the most intense and disturbing piece of writing I have read. The kinds of pain Erika wishes on herself is fairly revolting and I cant help but fear that some type of person reading it would use it as justification for physical attacks. Nevertheless, people use all sorts of ways to achieve sexual gratification in a consensual manner, and this part of the story was interesting for that aspect.The narrative was so distinctive with every comment adding more and more to flesh out the character until you feel that you are bizarrely in the know with regards to their intentions and actions.

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