15 December, 2007

Modern german novels

I haven't been updating this as much as I should, but other stuff has been keeping me busy. Anyway, I've been reading German stuff and really enjoying it, especially as it's all been very short. I love short novels and novellas.

Wolfgang Koeppen's Death in Rome, which was short and chilling and bitterly angry, an examination of Germany after the war. Four men reunite in Rome: a former Nazi mayor, now democratically elected Bürgermeister and his brother, a former SS-man now wanted for war crimes, and their respective sons, a conductor and a priest. As a discussion of what Germany and the Germans are, it's pretty brutal, but the structure and balance of the book is wonderful: a review I saw described it as 'choreographed like a ballet'. I want to read his other books about post-war Germany, Pigeons on the grass and The hothouse, but only found A sad affair in the library, his novel about a true life obsession with a cabaret singer. Not such an interesting theme or gripping book, but a fab Weimar-decadence atmosphere: even ze orchestra are beautiful. Thanks to N for the initial recommendation of Death in Rome. [74] [75]

Two more books of Joseph Roth's (I seem to be reading my way through his complete works, but he's so brilliant, it's great). Left and right, a novel about two brothers during the rise of the Nazis, and some of Roth's journalism from 1920s Berlin, collected as What I saw. The journalism is great and really captures the uneasiness of the time, as well as being funny. [76] [77]

And another German writer, another short book, and another recommendation from a friend, Stefan Zweig's Twilight, which was charming and sad. [78]

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