One of my favorite parts is the description of the artist Gao Qipei and his painting of a tiger. This image must be the one she's mentions as she describes it, "It is an unusual tiger, impressive and endearing. A tiger from the rear; a little sheepish, with the chubby backside of a bear, but still with great dignity." What a great description and when I found this tiger, I knew it had to be the one.
Esther talks quite a bit about inside and outside and her mother has told her so often how when Esther was a child she wanted to turn the tiger painting around so she could see the tiger's face. Esther doesn't believe it was true but has embraced it nevertheless because of the repetition.
The story is ultimately about love, rejection, dying; the psychological study of this woman's self-loathing. In all her life it appears that she has had one instant of hope and that was when Peter said that he'd met someone and her name begins with an E. "And in that short second, the possibility that it would be like the movies..." but Peter had fallen for Elizabeth and this is when Esther decides that "love passes" and "life passes" as well. I think Esther's "hand" at trying to live is exhausted yet do not get the sense she's suicidal.
"My Hand is Exhausted" is included in the 2012 edition of Best European Fiction. It is the opening story and I'm even more anxious to continue reading this promising collection of short stories.
FAVORITE LINE: "A crying man is impossible to draw; it's even worse than a naked man."
Wikipedia page about Martelaere