A brief summary might classify Rapids, the Swiss playwright Patrick Bolthauser’s first novel, as a Bildungsroman. The book, newly translated from the German by Peter Arnds, charts a young man’s progress through the twisting streets of an unfamiliar city, down the disorienting corridors of its university, into the gyres of sexual misadventure and beyond the pale of unfledged idealism. Yet Rapids proves to be a curious tale. Suffused with an impersonal intensity, it blindly rushes towards an end both predetermined and mysterious. Its protagonist remains nameless and undescribed, his character development apparently insubstantial. He shirks action and shuns decisions as sedulously as a domesticated of Hamlet.