At Big Other, David Green has a nice big fat essay on the fiction of David Ohle. The occasion for Green’s piece is the publication of Ohle’s latest novel, The Death of a Character, which again features his cypher Moldenke, the hero (?) of Ohle’s 1972 cult classic Motorman (“Fifty years after the appearance of Motorman, the strangeness only seems all the more believable,” writes Green).
Readers encountering David Ohle’s work for the first time through his most recent novel, The Death of a Character (2021), will indeed find the depiction promised in its title, but those familiar with Ohle’s previous books, especially his first and eventual cult favorite, Motorman (1972), will know that the character whose dying the narrative chronicles is the protagonist of that novel as well. Called simply Moldenke, he makes additional appearances in the long-delayed follow-up to Motorman, The Age of Sinatra (2004), as well as its successors, The Pisstown Chaos (2008) and The Old Reactor (2013). (In The Pisstown Chaos, Moldenke turns up as a minor character in a story focusing on others, but The Death of a Character marks the fourth time his picaresque existence has been the focus of an Ohle novel.) Moldenke has been the principal conduit to the singularly bizarre and often grotesque world Ohle invokes in his fiction, and thus his demise seems more a consummation of that world’s creation, its full achievement perhaps, than merely the portrayal of a fictional character’s death.