Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker
by Joseph Roth
his book, one of the most haunting things that Roth ever composed, was published in 1939, the year the author died. Like Andreas, the hero of the story, Roth drank himself to death in Paris, but this is not an autobiographical confession. It is a secular miracle-tale, in which the vagrant Andreas, after living under bridges, has a series of lucky breaks that lift him briefly onto a different plane of existence. The novella is extraordinarily compressed, dry-eyed and witty, despite its melancholic subject-matter.