German Literature Month – Week IV Links

Another amazing week for German Literature Month. The final wrap up post is due in a week or so as Lizzy has decided to extend the month. 

All those of you still want to contribute or finish a book, feel free to do so and join her. There will be a final wrap-up post and a link list next week as well.

Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué (A Work in Progress)

Grimm Readathon 2012: Meet me at Hanau (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

No Place on Earth by Christa Wolf (Tony’s Reading List)

Unformed Landscape by Peter Stamm (Vishy’s Blog)

Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler (Tales from the Reading Room)

The Story of the Hard Nut by E.T.A. Hoffmann (The Reading Life)

Grimm Readathon from Hauna to Kassel (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

My First Wife by Jakob Wassermann (Gaskella)

Demian by Hermann Hesse (Babbling Books)

Grimm Readathon: From kassel to Fürstenberg (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

Brenner and God by Wolf Haas (His Futile Preoccupations)

Ich sehe was, was Du nicht siehst by Birgit Vanderbeke (Tony’s Reading List)

The Weekend by Berhard Schlink (Vishy’s Blog)

Grimm Readathon: From Fürstenberg to Bremen (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

The Tale of the Honest Caspar and Fair Annie by Clemens Brentano (A Work in Progress)

Crime & Guilt by Ferdinand von Schirach (A Fiction Habit)

After Midnight by Irmgard Keun (chasing bawa)

Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin (Tony’s Reading List)

Grimm Readathon 2012 Meets Book Week Scotland (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

Wonderful, Wonderful Times by Elfriede Jelinek (St. Orberose)

Schnitzler and Stoppard collaborate (Wuthering Expectations)

Forbidden – Ostracized – Banned German Women Writers Under National Socialism (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller (Winstonsdad’s Blog)

Amerika by Franz Kafka (A Hot Cup of Pleasure)

Sci-Fi Stories by German Authors (Slightly Cultural, Most Thoughtful and Inevitably Irrelevant)

The Pharmacist by Ingrid Noll (A Work in Progress)

Another Schnitzler – Stoppard Play (Wuthering Expectations)

Siddharta by Hermann Hesse (Tabula Rasa)

The Gordian Knot by Bernhard Schlink (Winstonsdad’s Blog)

This Wednesday is Wunderbar GLM extension (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

The Reader by Bernard Schlink (Iris on Books)

German Literature Month – Week III Links

The enthusiasm for  German Literature Month is still amazing.

I think I’ve added all the links but let me know if one has escaped my attention.

Schnitzler’s Substitue for the Talking Cure (Wutherin Expectations)

Meet the Translator Sally-Ann Spencer (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

Hotel Savoy by Joseph Roth (Tony’s Reading List)

Schlink Week – Links (Reader in the Wilderness)

A Schlink Link – A Key to Understanding (Reader in the Wilderness)

Night Games – Schnitzler Stretches Out (Wuthering Expectations)

Tell me What You See by Zoran Drvenkar (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

The Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler (Wuthering Expectations)

The Swarm by Frank Schätzing and The Sweetness of Life by Paulus Hochgatterer (Farm Lane Books)

Summerhouse, Later by Judith Hermann (Tony’s Reading List)

Seven Years by Peter Stamm (Tony’s Book World)

Tell Me What You See by Zoran Drvenkar (Vishy’s Blog)

Talking of Romance… (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

Being German, Writing Fiction and the Holocaust (Reader in the Wilderness)

Final Words About Bernhard Schlink Week (Reader in the Wilderness)

Fräulein Else by Arthur Schnitzler (A Work in Progress)

Man of Straw by Heinrich Mann (His Futile Preoccupations)

Grimm’s Fairy Tales Day by Day (Read, Ramble)

Bunker by Andrea Maria Schenkel (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer (The Little Reader Library)

The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach (Vishy’s Blog)

Winters in the South by Norbert Gstrein (Winstonsdad’s Blog)

Mesmerized by Allissa Walser (50 Year Project)

Der Elfenbeinturm by Herbert W. Franke (Slightly Cultural, Most Thoughtful and Inevitably Irrelevant)

The Poetry of Trakl (Wuthering Expectations)

Zbinden’s Progress by Christoph Simon (everybookhasasoul)

This Wednesday is Wunderbar (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

Salzburg in Trakl’s Poems (Wuthering Expectations)

 All Roads Lead to Berlin (Tony’s Reading List) 

Andrea Maria Schenkel: Bunker (2009)

It had been a normal day at work. Monika was locking up, ready to head home, when the man arrived. She didn’t see his fist until it was far too late. Bundled into a car, tied up and taken in darkness to an old mill in the thick of a forest, she has been flung into a bunker. It is only now, as time passes and she sees her attacker in the light, that she notices the startling resemblance to someone from her very dark and buried past. Someone she never wanted to see again.

Andrea Maria Schenkel entered the literary crime scene with a big bang when her first novel  The Murder FarmTannöd was published in Germany. Based on a true story it described a crime which wiped out a whole family. While there were many glowing reviews there were also a lot who predicted she would be a one hit wonder. Fact is, she has written three more novels, two very different ones, Ice Cold – Kalteis and Bunker – Bunker, and a fourth one which hasn’t been translated yet – Finsterau -, which is written in the vein of Tannöd, but none has had the success of the first.

Bunker is a very unusual crime novel. It takes a long time to figure out what is going on as the POV occasionally changes two to three times per page. If the different points of view were not printed in different type, it would be nearly impossible to know who is telling the story. If you are an impatient person you might give up after a few pages. I decided to read until the end and must say, I don’t regret it. Instead of passively reading about the confusion of the victim, we share this confusion which was an interesting experience.

Monika is abducted from her work place, tied up, thrown into a car and driven to a mill in a dark forest. A bunker belongs to the mill and she is held captive there. The man hits and mishandles her but what he really wants is not clear.

After some time she feels she knows him. It seems to be someone she never wanted to see again and who was tied to the disappearance of her brother when she was still a teenager.

The relationship between Monika and her attacker changes constantly. While he hits her one moment, he takes care of her the next. At one point she has a chance to escape but she stays.

At the end of the book a murder has been committed, a person has been severely injured and another one escapes. That’s all I’m telling you.

I liked this puzzle approach, I found it interesting to only ever get a few snippets of information which only formed a whole after I had finished the book. The main story line ends in a satisfying way but there is a lot of back story which is never really sorted out. There are too many open questions at the end. I don’t aways mind being left with unanswered questions if I think, the author withheld answers despite the fact that he/she had them. When I feel it was an easy way out for the author, I’m not impressed. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that this is what happened here.

Bunker is a quick read, offers an interesting narrative technique but I’m still not sure whether it is not rather a gimmick than a great book.

Zoran Drvenkar: Tell Me What You See – Sag mir, was du siehst (2002) German YA Fantasy Thriller

Zoran Drvenkar was born in Croatia in 1967 and moved to Berlin with his parents at the age of three. He is the author of far over 30 books for children, young adults and adults. His gritty thriller for adults Sorry and the fantasy thriller Tell Me What You See – Sag mir, was du siehst are the only books available in English so far. I’ve read a collection of short stories a couple of years ago and really liked it. I thought he is the perfect choice for genre week.

Tell Me What You See was very different from the other book I read by him and very different from anything I ever read. Some call him the Neil Gaiman of German literature (a title that Christoph Marzi holds as well).  After having read this novel I have to say, it’s not a good comparison. He is very different.

If you look at the German cover below you get the perfect feel of this book. It has very strong imagery and a mysterious story. The book starts during Christmas night. Sixteen year old Alissa and her best friend Evelin wander around the snow-covered graveyard, in the middle of the night. It’s icy cold and they are looking for Alissa’s father’s grave like every Christmas. He died in an accident a few years ago and Alissa cannot get over it. While looking for the grave, Alissa falls into an open crypt, discovers the coffin of a small child and a mysterious plant growing out of that coffin. Something urges her to rip out the plant and eat it.

From that moment on things get strange and scary. Alissa sees figures nobody else sees, she notices ravens all over the town, her former boyfriend Simon starts stalking her. What she doesn’t know is that ingesting a magical plant like this is deadly for the wrong host.

If you want to know whether she will survive or join her father, what those figures are and discover the secret of the plant, you have to read the book. The answers and the ending is a bit sad and quite unexpected.

I loved reading this book, I liked the imagery so much and found the story suspenseful. I didn’t care so much for the language though. It’s very rude in places, especially in the parts written in Simon’s POV.

Tell Me What You See is very evocative and atmospherical, a perfect read for this time of the year. If you like snow, graveyards, ravens, old dilapidated villas and ghosts, this is a must read for you.

I have to add that I was a bit taken aback by the explicit references to sex, especially since this is a book for the age group 12+. Clearly there are other rules for German YA novels. I have no children but I asked someone if they would think it is OK for their twelve-year-old child to read about blowjobs and other explicit things. The answer, as I had expected, was no. I just thought I’d let you know if you consider buying this as a Christmas gift for a younger person.

Vishy and I decided to read this book together. You can find his review here. It’s worth having a look as he included many beautiful quotes from the book.

German Literature Month – Week II Links

This was another great week for German Literature Month

Let me know if I missed a link.

Unformed Landscape by Peter Stamm (Tony’s Reading List)

The Cow by Beat Sterchi (Farm Lane Books)

One Hundred Days by Lukas Bärfuss (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

German Literature Month (and then she read)

The Royal Game by Stefan Zweig (Tabula Rasa)

The Sorrows of Young Werther (Still Life With Books)

A Happy Man by Hansjörg Schertenleib (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Jakob von Gunten  by Robert Walser (Vapour Trails)

Sea of Ink by Richard Weihe (Iris on Books)

Reckless by Cornelia Funke (and then she read)

Bernhard Schlink Week (Reader in the Wilderness)

L’adultera by Theodor Fontane (Tony’s Reading List)

My Prizes by Thomas Bernhard (in lieu of a field guide)

The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller (Vishy’s Blog)

Introduction GLM (Curious Incidents in the North East)

On the Edge by Markus Werner (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig (everybookhasasoul)

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (Sightly Cutural, Most Toughtful and Inevitably Irrelevant)

The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel (A Hot Cup of Pleasure)

Eckbert the Fair by Ludwig Tiek (A Work in Progress)

Summer Lies by Bernhard Schlink (Winstonsdad’s Blog)

The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller (Tony’s Reading List)

Summer Lies by Bernhard Schlink (Reader in the Wilderness)

Schnitzler’s Short Fiction (Wuthering Expectations)

The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig (The Little Reader Library)

Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer (Leeswamme’s Blog)

The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek (A Fiction Habit)

Summer Lies by Berhard Schlink (Lizzy’s Literaray Life)

The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

The Dead Are Silent by Arthur Schnitzler (Wuthering Expectations)

German Stories from Best European Fiction 2012 (The Reading Life)

Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (Still Life With Books)

Loving Rilke (Tales From the Reading Room)

This Wednesday is Wunderbar (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

The Collinin Case by Ferdinand von Schirach (A Book Sanctuary)

The Beggar Woman of Locarno by Heinrich von Kleist (The Reading Life)

Here is a great resource which Mel U (The Reading Life) sent me yesterday. It has a lot of online stories, in English and German, mostly from the Rom

Bernhard Schlink: The Weekend – Das Wochenende (2008)

Old friends and lovers reunite for a weekend in a secluded country home after spending decades apart. They plumb their memories of each other and pass quiet judgements on the life decisions each has made since their youth. This isn’t, however, just any old reunion, and their conversations of the old days aren’t typical reminiscences. After 24 years, Joerg – a convicted murderer and terrorist, is released from prison on a pardon. 

Bernhard Schlink Week, hosted by Judith (Reader in the Wilderness), is part of German Literature Month. We had the option to choose either a literary  or one of the crime novels. I opted for the first. I have read The Reader a few years ago and liked it. It’s well-written, carefully constructed, thought-provoking and suspenseful. No wonder it was a bestseller. It took me a while to decide which of his novels I should read. Since I’m interested in the history of the RAF (Red Army Fraction), I felt like reading The Weekend – Das Wochenende which tells the story of Jörg, former terrorist, who is amnestied by the president, after 20 years in prison. To ease him into this transition his sister Christiane, invited the old friends to her house in the country, to spend a weekend together.

Family weekends or holidays are tropes I love because they often manage to look under the surface; taken out of their daily lives and put together, people clash and reveal their carefully hidden and often ugly feelings. To choose this setting for the homecoming of his protagonist wasn’t a bad choice but the way it was written was awfully bad. While there were a few scenes I liked and although it was a quick read, the melodramatic tone, the trite symbolism – the book starts on Friday and ends on Sunday with a “redemptive” scene in which everyone helps to carry buckets of water which flooded the cellar after a torrential rain (hello, heavy-handed allusion) – just didn’t do it for me. Add cancer, a budding love story between two elderly people who don’t need to fall in love as they are mature and therefore can skip the intro – read – jump into bed without the nervous fussing  – …

What’s really bad is that this is a book about terrorism. A terrorism which was a reaction to Germany’s post-war attempts at forgetting the past and leaving the old Nazis in prominent places. A terrorism which protested against imperialism, bigotry and hypocrisy. While initially in her first wave the RAF didn’t want to harm or kill people, the second wave became much more aggressive and violent and didn’t shy away from murder. Jörg is exemplary of this second wave. But nothing is shown, or discussed. There are just people with opinions, sitting together, eating and discussing. Each character serves as a vehicle expressing the one or the other opinion on terrorism.

The German newspaper critics hated this book. The readers on amazon like it. I don’t always agree with critics but in this case I have to. This is a book written like a corny genre novel and the only thing interesting about it is the topic but it’s not treated well. I don’t know any more than before reading it. Jörg says that there was a war on and that it was normal that people got killed in a war. On the other hand he is crying over getting old and being ill…. A sentimental man who pretends he doesn’t care that he killed people? That doesn’t work for me.

The book was published in 2008, just half a year after Brigitte Mohnhaupt was amnestied, while Christain Klar was not. It’s ok to be topical in novels but this book makes me think Schlink wanted to exploit something.

At the end of the year we write our Best of lists. I always add one or two worst of books, books that I found so bad that in some cases they infuriated me. The Weekend will be on the list. It’s insufferably botched.

German Literature Month – Week I Links

What an incredibly successful Week I of German Literature Month this was. 

I think I’ve added all the links but let me know if one has escaped my attention.

Introduction to GLM (Tony’s Reading List)

Introduction GLM (Obooki’s Obloquy)

The Fury by Paul Heyse (The Reading Life)

Five from the Archive: Contemporary German Literature (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

Brigita and Rock Crystal by Adalbert Stifter (Tony’s Reading List)

German Literature Recommendations II – 89 Shorty Story and Novella Writers You Should Read (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Introduction to GLM (The Little Red Reader Library)

Introduction GLM (A Fiction Habit)

Introduction to GLM (Vishy’s Blog)

Introduction to GLM (AJ Reads)

From the Diary of a Snail by Günter Grass (Winstonsdad’s Blog)

The Journey to the Harz by Heinrich Heine (Obooki’s Obloquy)

Introduction to GLM (Everybookhasasoul)

What not to drink when reading Matthias Politicky (Lizzy’s Literary Life)

Dyning by Arthur Schnitzler (Winstonsdad’s Blog)

Lieutnat Gustl and Fräulein Else by Arthur Schnitzler (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach (The Little Red Reader Library)

Introduction to GLM (Tabula Rasa)

German Literature – A Short Introduction by Nicholas Boyle (Vishy’s Blog)

Confusion by Stefan Zweig (His Futile Preoccupations)

Maybe This Time by Alois Hotschnig (Winstonsdad’s Blog)

Sea of Ink by Richar Weihe (The Prrish Lantern)

Love and Intrigues by Friedrich Schiller (Tony’s Reading List)

Two Poems Based on Folklore (Tabula Rasa)

Literature and War Readalong – Gert Ledig (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Translation Duel – Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (Lizzy’s Literaray Life)

The Fairy Tale by J.W. von Goethe (A Work in Progress)

The Pigeon by Patrick Süskind (Vishy’s Blog)

Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki (A Fiction Habit)

Prague German Writers: A List – A Guest Post by literalab (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Prague German Writers (literalab)

Goethe’s Hermann and Dorothea and Heinrich Heine’s Germany. A Winter’s Tale (Tony’s Reading List)

Seven Years by Peter Stamm and EIBF report (everybookhasasoul)

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (Vishy’s Blog)

Prague German Writers – Franzy Werfel’s A Palee-Blue Ink in  a Lady’s Hand – A Guest Post by literalab (Beauty is a Sleeping Cat)

Prague German Witers – Franz Werfel (literalab)

The Golden Pot by E.T.A. Hoffmann (Obooki’s Obloquy)

In Free Fall (aka Dark Matter) by Juli Zeh (Still Life With Books)

The Corrections by Thomas Bernhard (Winstonsdad’s Blog)

This Wednesday is Wunderbar (Lizzy’s Literary Life)