Article

Der heilige Eddy von Jakob Arjouni

heilige_eddy

Blurb:

Neuer Held des Kayankaya-Autors ist Eddy Stein. Der hat sich im linksalternativen Kreuzberg eine Klischeeidentität aufgebaut, während er in den Bonzenvierteln ausgeklüngelte Trickbetrügereien startet und sich so sein Musikerdasein finanziert. Doch bei einem Handgemenge im Hausflur seiner Altbauwohnung tötet er aus Versehen Berlins meistgehassten Prominenten: den Großkapitalisten Horst König, der als Käufer der Tempelhofer Deo-Werke zunächst als Retter gefeiert wurde, nach der angekündigten Schließung aber als Vernichter von 8000 Arbeitsplätzen in den Schlagzeilen ist. Um seine Tarnung nicht auffliegen zu lassen, muss Eddy die Leiche verschwinden lassen. Als das gelingt, hören die Schwierigkeiten trotzdem nicht auf, denn der vermeintliche Mord an König wird zum Großereignis, und die Boulevardmedien feiern den unbekannten Mörder als Volkshelden.


In a nutshell:

I read it in: German

I liked it:     Yes      

For people who like: Screwball Comedies, Billy Wilder


My thoughts: 

Da das Buch ohnehin nur auf deutsch erhältlich ist, und dies ausserdem so gut in den German Literature Month passt, ist es nur angebracht, auch auf  deutsch darüber zu bloggen.

Ich habe bisher kaum von Jakob Arjouni gehört, und erst Lizzy’s giveaway post hat mich auf ihn aufmerksam gemacht. Da erinnerte ich mich vage an den Titel “Happy Birthday, Türke”. Wie es der Zufall will, bin ich kurz darauf in unserer Bücherei auf “Der heilige Eddy” gestossen.

Der Anfang erinnerte mich sehr an Billy Wilders “One, Two Three”, nur ohne Schwiegersohn in spe, dafür aber mit Leiche. Herrlich komisch, und Eddy’s Gedankengänge und Grundsätze sind einfach wunderbar.

Später lässt die Komik etwas nach, aber deshalb wird es nicht weniger unterhaltsam. Jakob Arjounis Stil zu schreiben hat mir sehr gut gefallen und Eddys Stimme war sehr realistisch – soweit ich das beurteilen kann, ich bin weder mit Trickbetrügern noch mit Original Berlinern bzw. Berliner Originalen gut vertraut.

Die Geschichte wies ein recht grosses Loch gegen Ende zu auf. Eddy’s Geschichte, die er der Polizei erzählte, klang zwar plausibel, jedoch könnte sie in Miuten wie eine Seifenblase platzen, wenn die Möbelpacker oder Königs Bodyguards aussagen würden. Die Bodyguards mögen ja vielleicht noch aus bekannten Gründen den Mund halten; weshalb aber die anderen schweigen sollten, leuchtet mir nicht ein. Und damit wäre dann auch Arkadi dran. Irgendwie hat mich das nicht zufriedengestellt.

Abgesehen davon ist dies eine wunderbare unterhaltsame, komische Geschichte, die schnell gelesen ist, einfach deshalb, weil man das Buch nicht aus der Hand legen mag.

Location: Berlin, Germany

Berliner BezirkeKreuzberg Hotel Adlon Schloss Charlottenburg

Alle Bilder von wikipedia. Klick auf das Bild führt zu dem wikipedia Eintrag mit Urheber.

Product info and buy link :

Title Der heilige Eddy
Author Jakob Arjouni
Publisher Diogenes
ISBN 978-3257240177
I got this book from the library
Buy link Kaufe “Der heilige Eddy”

 

Hast du dieses Buch auch gelesen? Wie fandest du es?

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Article

Maybe this time by Alois Hotschnig

Die Kinder beruhigte das nichtBlurb:

A spellbinding short story collection by one of Austria’s most critically acclaimed authors.

A man becomes obsessed with observing his neighbours. A large family gathers for Christmas only to wait for the one member who never turns up. An old woman lures a man into her house where he finds dolls resembling himself as a boy. Mesmerizing and haunting stories about loss of identity in the modern world.

 

 

 


In a nutshell:

I read it in: the original German (Die Kinder beruhigte das nicht)

I liked it:     Yes      

For people who like: creepy short stories with an eerie atmosphere


My thoughts: 

You have probably heard of this book by now. So had I before I started reading. I read this is German and I don’t think I have ever come across a writer who writes in such a precise way and who conjured such a clear picture of what is going on. I read the stories, strange and disturbing, watched people do things and could picture every little detail.

The story that stuck with me most was the one that gave the book its English title “Maybe this time, maybe now”. Those family gatherings were so bizarre and at the same time so common. Maybe here it is a bit more unusual than most, but haven’t we all been to events where a lot of time was spent wondering who would still be coming, when they would arrive or what keeps them from showing up (all this possibly to hide the fact that there is nothing else to talk about). The ubiquitous Uncle Walter who at the same time was never there was familiar in a strange way.

The German title “Die Kinder beruhigte das nicht” (This didn’t calm down the children) is not the title of one of the short stories, but it is part of a sentence in the third story in the book “Then a door opens and swings shut”. An upsetting  story that gave the idea for another German cover with a doll face on it. I find dolls rather frightening and women keeping dolls and treat them like children have a certain weirdness about them, sorry, no offense intended.

In that particular scene the narrator visits a school friend and inquires about their neighbour, an old woman with an odd collection of dolls. She is an outcast, the children are afraid of her and avoid her whenever they can, they throw pebbles against her window etc. So the friend’s wife tries to appease their two daughters by saying that the woman will be moving away soon and that the reason she is only looking for company is that she is lonely. The narrator then observes that “this didn’t calm down the children”.

Some stories I didn’t like as much, for example “Encounter” or “The beginning of something” but I loved Alois Hotschnig’s writing style and will definitely get more of his books.

Here are the stories with their original and English titles. My favourites were “Two ways of leaving” and “Maybe this time, maybe now”, probably because even though they were strange and creepy, they were still conceivable (at least for me).

Dieselbe  Stille – dasselbe Geschrei (The same silence – the same noise)

Zwei Arten zu gehen (Two ways of leaving) 

Eine Tür geht dann auf und fällt zu (Then a door opens and swings shut)

Vielleicht diesmal, vielleicht jetzt (Maybe this time, maybe now)

Der Anfang von etwas (The beginning of something)

Begegnung (Encounter)

In meinem Zimmer brennt Licht (The light in my room) 

Morgens, mittags, abends (Morning, noon and night) 

Du kennst sie nicht, es sind Fremde (You don’t know them, they’re strangers)

Product info and buy link :

Title Maybe this time
Author Alois Hotschnig
Publisher Peirene Press
ISBN 978-0-9562840-5-1
I got this book from I swapped it
Buy link Buy Maybe This Time
More info Maybe this time at Peirene Press

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Want to know what others thought of this book? Have a look at:

Caribousmom

Chasing bawa

Beauty is a sleeping cat

Andrew Blackman

Tony’s reading list

The Parrish Lantern 

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Article

The hottest dishes of the Tartar cuisine by Alina Bronsky

gerichteBlurb:

Rosa Achmetowna is the outrageously nasty and wily narrator of this rollicking family saga from the author of Broken Glass Park. When she discovers that her seventeen-year-old daughter, "stupid Sulfia," is pregnant by an unknown man she does everything to thwart the pregnancy, employing a variety of folkloric home remedies. But despite her best efforts the baby, Aminat, is born nine months later at Soviet Birthing Center Number 134. Much to Rosa’s surprise and delight, dark eyed Aminat is a Tartar through and through and instantly becomes the apple of her grandmother’s eye. While her good for nothing husband Kalganow spends his days feeding pigeons and contemplating death at the city park, Rosa wages an epic struggle to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, whom she considers a woefully inept mother. When Aminat, now a wild and willful teenager, catches the eye of a sleazy German cookbook writer researching Tartar cuisine, Rosa is quick to broker a deal that will guarantee all three women a passage out of the Soviet Union. But as soon as they are settled in the West, the uproariously dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter and grandmother begin to fray.


In a nutshell:

I read it in: the original German (Die schärfsten Gerichte der tatarischen Küche)

I liked it:     Oh, yes.

For people who like: matter of fact storytelling, who don’t mind an un-likable heroine


My thoughts: 

Rosalinda is someone who gets things done. Living in the Soviet Union this is definitely a plus. She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. She thinks she knows what is best for everybody and would sell her grandmother if it helped her plans along. Unfortunately the other people in her life often don’t agree with her meddling and feel quite a bit of resentment. However, Rosalinda is sure they will come round eventually and see how great she is.

Rosalinda is the heroine of this book and we see everything through her eyes. From her point of view everything she does makes perfect sense. It would have been interesting to see what Sulfia, her daughter, and later Aminat, her granddaughter, think about how she manipulates them and how she more or less rules their lives.

Alina Bronsky told this story so fabulously in such a dry, matter of fact voice that it is a pleasure to read it. Already after the first few pages where Rosalinda talks about Sulfia’s pregnancy and the following attempts at abortion I knew that I would love the book. The short passage that sold it to me right away was this one (sorry, it is in German):

Ich wusste, dass solche Fälle vorkamen. Eine Jungfrau träumte, und neun Monate später brachte sie ein Kind zur Welt. Ich kannte sogar einen noch schlimmeren Fall, meine Cousine Rafaella: Sie hatte ihre einzige Tochter in der Blüte einer grossen, exotischen Zimmerpflanze unbekannter Art gefunden, deren Kern sie aus dem Süden mitgebracht hatte. Ich konnte mich noch genau erinnern, wie ratlos sie damals gewesen war.

Rosalinda’s extremely self-assured, not to say conceited, view of herself and the way she dismisses the rest of the world was just astonishing. Whatever happens, she never finds fault with herself, but always with the others. Even at the end when she reads about Aminat’s life story in the paper – a story where her grandmother, i.e. Rosalinda, features in a very negative way -, she doesn’t realize it is her they are talking about and comments that she is not even mentioned. In her eyes she just can’t do wrong.

All this doesn’t make Rosalinda sound like a kind and loveable character, but I liked her nevertheless. Her story got never boring, it was funny, tragic, sad, everything you could wish for. After reading Alina Bronsky’s second novel I will be sure to get her debut "Scherbenpark" (Broken Glass Park).

Location: Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg), SU (I think) & somewhere near Frankfurt, Germany

Map Russia Ekaterinburg Ascension church Map Germany

All images from wikipedia

Product info and buy link :

Title The hottest dishes of the Tatar cuisine
Author Alina Bronsky
Publisher Europa Editions
ISBN 978-1609450069
I got this book from I swapped it
Buy link Buy The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Only Orangery reviewed this book some time ago.

Lizzy’s review at Lizzy’s Literary Life

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You can find all posts relating to German Literature Month at Beauty is a sleeping cat.

Article

German literature month November 2011

german_lit Caroline from  Beauty is a sleeping cat and Lizzy from Lizzy’s literary life are organizing a German literature month in November. It is very well thought out with readalongs, weekly themes and giveaways to boot.

I won’t join the readalongs, however. I read “Effi Briest” in school and am not so keen on Heinrich Böll, but week 3 is reserved for Austrian and Swiss literature, and then Alois Hotschnig comes into play. I have “Maybe this time” in German on my shelf, and it seems November is the ideal time to read it.

If you would like to try out some German literature and maybe need a little nudge, check out Caroline’s and Lizzy’s blogs.

Edit:

It might not be a bad idea to add a link to all the German books I have read recently. Maybe someone will find some inspiration what to read. There are not many… 

 

Article

Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck

visitation1Blurb:

A bestseller in Germany, Visitation has established Jenny Erpenbeck as one of Europe’s most significant contemporary authors. A house on the forested bank of a Brandenburg lake outside Berlin (once belonging to Erpenbeck’s grandparents) is the focus of this compact, beautiful novel. Encompassing over one hundred years of German history, from the nineteenth century to the Weimar Republic, from World War II to the Socialist German Democratic Republic, and finally reunification and its aftermath, Visitation offers the life stories of twelve individuals who seek to make their home in this one magical little house. The novel breaks into the everyday life of the house and shimmers through it, while relating the passions and fates of its inhabitants. Elegant and poetic, Visitation forms a literary mosaic of the last century, tearing open wounds and offering moments of reconciliation, with its drama and its exquisite evocation of a landscape no political upheaval can truly change.


In a nutshell:

I read it in: German

I liked it:  x  Yes and  x   No  The book was a DNF for me.

For people who like: historical topics, clean and cold language without a word too many, modern German literature


My thoughts: 

I wanted to like this book, and in a strange way I did and then again I didn’t. It is the story of a house at a lake in Germany and its inhabitants over the course of time (see my Book beginnings on Friday post). The language is very clean, detached and cold. There is not one word too many and everything is made very clear to the reader. I could picture everything perfectly, the house, the gardener, the lake, the bathhouse, the inhabitants.

However, I decided to stop reading it. I haven’t come very far, so it could be that my decision was entirely wrong, but I just don’t want to spend my time reading stories that are too depressing for words. In the few chapters I read there were Jews getting murdered in a concentration camp, a little Jewish girl getting shot after hiding in a box on her own for a long time, a German woman getting raped by Russian soldiers. Well, you might say that that is what that time was like so I can’t expect anything different. True! It may well be that the following period with the house being in the German Democratic Republic would have been a cheerful read, but seriously, I couldn’t imagine that.

Somehow I think that the German title “Heimsuchung” (which has a somewhat sinister and terrifying connotation) refers to the dreadful misfortune that befalls the house’s inhabitants. As brilliant the book might be, I just found it neither entertaining in a relaxing sort of way nor captivating enough for me to read on. Maybe this was just not the right time for me to read it. If you are looking for a light read that leaves you ready to go to sleep happily, this is not the book for you.

Location: Scharmützelsee, Brandenburg, Germany

Scharmützelsee

Image from wikipedia

Product info and buy link :

Title Visitation
Author Jenny Erpenbeck
Publisher New Directions
ISBN 978-0811218351
I got this book my German swap site
Buy link Buy Visitation
More info English page on the German publisher’s site

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

A very good review in German at “der Freitag”

Article

Book beginnings on Friday

visitation1

Today’s book beginning is from a book I started some time ago. It is called “Visitation” in English, the original German title is “Heimsuchung” by Jenny Erpenbeck.

It is the story of a house and its various owners over the course of roughly hundred years.

No one in the village knows where he comes from.  Perhaps he was always here.

The German beginning goes like this:

Woher er gekommen ist, weiß im Dorf niemand. Vielleicht war er immer schon da.

“He” is the gardener who is taking care of the garden of the house throughout the book.

What is YOUR book beginning today? To see more book beginnings go to A few more pages!

Article

Every seventh wave by Daniel Glattauer

alle_sieben_wellenBlurb:

‘How will this go on, Leo? The same as before? But where will it go? Nowhere, just on. You live your life, I live mine. And the rest we’ll live together.’ Love Virtually ends as Leo leaves Germany for America. He and Emmi have still not met, but the intensity of their correspondence has been threatening Emmi’s marriage. But shouldn’t these unconventional lovers be given another chance? When Leo returns from Boston and gradually resumes his e-mail contact with Emmi. But he has plans to settle down with Pamela, the woman he met in America. Emmi and Leo meet at last in person, in an attempt to draw a line under their relationship, but they cannot stop writing to each other. When Pamela learns of Leo’s secret and unusual liaison, she returns to the USA, and Emmi’s marriage to Bernhard is tested to its limits…


In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x  Yes       No

For people who like: epistolary novels, e-mail romance, who think that life on the net is real and not just fluff, who have read “Love Virtually” and liked it.  


My thoughts: 

After reading “Love Virtually” this was a must read.  The story continues exactly where it stopped in the previous book, so it was easy to get into it again. Leo now has a (long distance) girlfriend, which complicates matters.

I did not like this one as much as I did the first book. Somehow I felt the conversations were always going in circles. “I want to meet you”. “Why? What do you expect from it?” “Nothing specific.” “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” – Some time later it would be exactly the same, just that this time the other would be the one suggesting a meeting. Often the conversations consisted of one or two word mails (realistic, but not very entertaining to outsiders) and again I wondered why those two didn’t instant message instead.

The title of the book becomes self explanatory once you come across that phrase in the book. At the same time at that moment the female reader once more realizes that men are oblivious to everything unless it’s spelled out to them in very large letters. Emmi gives him such an obvious hint about a possible future but Leo just totally ignores it. You just had to shake your head!

As for the title, at first I thought the English title was slightly changed, but once I read the book I realized it was translated 100% after all. “Alle sieben Wellen” means either “All seven waves” or “Every seventh wave” where the first would be the more common one without further context. However, in the story it becomes obvious that it is the latter.

The ending is rather rushed and could have been done a tiny bit slower for my taste. I read this book within one evening, it definitely is a good, quick and interesting read, but it somehow doesn’t live up to its prequel.

Product info and buy link :

Title Every seventh wave
Author Daniel Glattauer
Publisher Maclehose Press
ISBN 978-1906694982
Buy link Amazon.com page (published in May 2012) for Every Seventh Wave

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Article

Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer

gut_gegen_nordwindBlurb:

It’s a virtual romance that begins by chance. When Leo mistakenly receives e-mails from a stranger named Emmi, he replies–and Emmi writes back.  Soon, secrets are shared, sparks fly, and erotic tension simmers. Even though Emmi is married, it seems only a matter of time till they meet. But will their feelings survive a real-life encounter?  And, if so-what then? Funny and fast-paced, Love Virtually offers plenty of twists, turns, and satisfaction.


In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x  Yes       No

For people who like: epistolary novels, e-mail romance, who think that life on the net is real and not just fluff.


My thoughts: 

I first read about this in a post by Stu about epistolary novels which I like a lot. “Love virtually” is the modern equivalent, a novel in e-mails instead of letters. It sounded like something I might enjoy, so I got the original German version (called “Gut gegen Nordwind”) right away. And read it within one day which says a lot, given that I am a rather slow reader (not because I am slow at reading, but because I have not much time to read, I might add). But this was worth losing an hour of sleep over.

I loved how Emmi and Leo slowly, slowly got closer, from a polite and short exchange about a wrong email address to a deep friendship and (possible) romance. The conversations were sometimes extremely short, sometimes very long, very witty, sometimes loving, sometimes truly angry. They sometimes stopped writing for a couple of days but in the end they couldn’t leave each other alone.

Why at some points they didn’t revert to chatting I didn’t get. Instead of emailing a 3-sentence-mail every 20 seconds they could have gone and chatted more effectively. But I suppose this would have interrupted the thought of a 100% e-mail correspondence.

One thing I must complain about, however, is the abrupt ending. This just was too quick and disappointing for this reader. But not all is lost. I heard from LoveVirtually on twitter that there is a sequel (something I was oblivious to) called “Every seventh wave” (German “Alle sieben Wellen”). Good news after all. Do I need to say that I already ordered it?

Product info and buy link :

Title Love virtually
Author Daniel Glattauer
Publisher SilverOak
ISBN 978-1402786747
Buy link Buy Love Virtually

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Stu’s review at Winstonsdad

Article

History and Book locations: Goethe’s & Schiller’s houses

A few pictures from a weekend trip to Weimar in Thuringia, Germany. Weimar has a vast cultural heritage. It was the home of two leading characters of the Weimar Classicism, the birthplace of the first German republic, the Weimar republic, and also the founding place of the Bauhaus school.

weimar1

Goethe-and-Schiller-Monument in front of the German National Theatre Weimar.

weimar2

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived in this house from 1788 to 1789 and then again from 1792 until his death in 1832.

It belongs, together with Goethe’s garden house, to Classical Weimar which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

weimar3

 

 

Friedrich von Schiller bought this house in 1802 and lived in it until his death in 1805.

Article

Book beginnings on Friday

Wolfgang Borchert

 

Today’s book beginnings is not really the beginning of a book but of a manifesto against war by Wolfgang Borchert, a German writer who died in 1947 at the age of 26. He wrote this in 1947, but if you think it is outdated in any way you couldn’t be any more wrong. There are various translations available on the net, I linked to them at the bottom of this post.

The manifesto is called “Then there’s only one choice”.

You. Man at the machine in the factory. When they tell you tomorrow to stop making pots and pans and instead make helmets and machine guns, then there’s only one choice:
Say NO!

You. Woman in the store, woman in the office. When they tell you tomorrow to fill grenades and mount telescopic sights on sniper rifles, then there’s only one choice:
Say NO!

You can read the full text and also the original German here. Other translations you can find here and here, but I personally prefer the first one.

Article

Join the new World literature tour to Germany

The Guardian is going on a new World literature tour and the first stop will be Germany, “land of skill and steel, of tradition and technology”.

Everybody can submit their favourite reads by German authors or about Germany, “which shed some light on the country of Sturm und Drang”.

Read more about the new World literature tour at the Guardian’s website and submit your favourite read!

Article

Book beginnings on Friday

zauberberg2

My book beginning today is connected to the comparing covers post from a few days ago. I am reading "The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann. The beginning of the book goes medias in res, but is still rather uneventful.

ARRIVAL

An ordinary young man was on his way from his hometown of Hamburg to Davos-Platz in the canton of Graubünden. It was the height of summer, and he planned to stay for three weeks.
It is a long trip, however, from Hamburg to those elevations – too long, really, for so short a visit.

Don’t those few sentences already give us a premonition that the stay of the young man will not be over after a mere three weeks?