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Billiards at Half-Past Nine

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3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  2,503 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
Heinrich Böll's well-known, vehement opposition to fascism and war informs this moving story of Robert Faehmel. After being drawn into the Second World War to command retreating German forces despite his anti-Nazi feelings, Faehmel struggles to re-establish a normal life at war's end. He adheres to a rigorous schedule, including a daily game of billiards. When his routine ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 1994 by Penguin Classics (first published 1959)
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Steve


Heinrich Böll with his eternal cigarette(*)



Sometimes the Swedish Academy does get things right, and one of these times was the award of the Nobel Prize in 1972 to Heinrich Böll (1917-1985), the year after he published the excellent Gruppenbild mit Dame (though probably my favorite is Ansichten eines Clowns, whence the above quote is taken). I have just re-read one of his better early novels, Billard um halbzehn (1959),(**) and am once again seduced by the many fine qualities of his prose.

Though
...more
Jennifer
Aug 22, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lapl, 1001-bymr
Some of the most beautiful writing ever in this book: "Don't encourage the frozen memory to thaw; such frost flowers would only turn into dull dirty water and run down the pane. Evoke nothing, never expect to bring back childhood's austerity of feeling in adult souls grown soft..."

Memory can be messy. What a father remembers may look completely different from how a son remembers it. This is especially true with a war thrown into the mix because suddenly the world stands on it's head and spins b
...more
Miss Ravi
Nov 24, 2015 Miss Ravi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, 1394

فرم کتاب را میپسندم. تغییر زاویه دید و جابهجایی مُدام آن میان یک عالمه شخصیت که همهشان زندگی پر فراز و نشیبی هم داشتهاند. در واقع مشکلام با داستان است. درست که دارد به جنگ میپردازد اما خط داستانی مشخصی وجود ندارد و کُنشی اتفاق نمیافتد. همهچیز در گذشته اتفاق افتاده و تمام شده. شخصیتها زندگیشان را برای مُنشی یا پادوی هتل تعریف میکنند اما خواننده که منشی و پادوی هتل نیست که مجبور باشد به وراجی آنها گوش دهد بی آنکه بداند قرار است این خاطرات به کجا برسند! انرژی داستان در صد صفحهی ابتدایی فروکش میکند
...more
AC
Sep 15, 2012 AC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-german
This is a wonderful, wonderful book -- and it has made me a fan of Böll -- the writing is lovely, humane, a spirit of dignity...

I found the ending somewhat less satisfying, as there were too many loose threads, and so the missing star. But this remains a wonderful read, and the discovery for me of a magnificent voice.
Hadrian
Jun 16, 2012 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german, fiction
Red-green, white-green, from the billiard balls new figurations emerged like so many signals. Then were swiftly scattered. Leaving naught behind. Music with no melody, painting without likeness, quadrilaterals, rectangles, rhombs, endlessly multiplied. Clicking billiard balls caroming from green cushions.

This is a wandering meditation in post-war Germany, through ruined abbeys and thought pleadings of and for the dead. It is wry and humorous at times, but a deeply sensitive book. It is about fam
...more
Mary
Sep 07, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing
I almost missed an ultimately great experience with this book because the first pages did not seem to be repaying the effort. Unnecessarily esoteric, I thought.
But I gave it a rest, then plunged into the middle and, as in other cases, it became easy to like and impossible not to care about. It's a marvelous novel.
Mike
Dec 03, 2016 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-owned
The specter of fascism doesn't merely disappear when the threat is defeated. It lingers for generations, with much of the psychological effects becoming manifest only years after the violence has ended. Heinrich Böll's novel is about three generations of German architects who struggle with the impact of two World Wars and Nazi oppression. Their friendships, families, and psyches are shattered, and the fragmented narrative of the novel reflects this reality, where memories are always ever-present ...more
Steve
Sep 23, 2015 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A very hard book to rate (and at times read), but in the end I felt that Billiards at Half-Past Nine promised, or suggested, more than it could ever deliver. I have no idea whether Boll had admired or read Faulkner, but “Billiards,” both structurally, with its constantly changing voices, and thematically (National Sin), certainly reminded me of Absalom, Abasalom. But Faulkner hit a home run with his novel (one the greatest in American Literature), and Boll, with his attempt to reconcile the past ...more
Jeff
Oct 28, 2009 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has been almost a month (and seems much longer) since i finished reading this book. It has been sitting next to this keyboard ever since. I haven't discussed it with friends. I haven't been tempted to share my thoughts in any way. That's about as tepid a 4-star assessment as possible.

#1 of all #1s: completely disregard any blurbs to the effect of "The interruption of this routine by an old schoolmate and former Nazi who has become a power in German reconstruction triggers a conflict both abso
...more
Rob Atkinson
Jul 24, 2011 Rob Atkinson rated it really liked it
This novel is one of the quintessential works of 20th C. German Literature, dealing as it does with the haunted legacy of Nazism, Germany's collective guilt in the post-war years, and the burden of memory, as reflected in the account of one German family, the Faehmels. Their history unfolds through the reminiscences of three generations, Grandfather, Father, and Son, all architects by trade; it eventually goes back as far as the old man's arrival in Cologne in 1907 and ends with the single, fate ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Three generations of Germans, two world wars, a lot of deaths, destruction and guilt in between. That's a good way of summarizing this book.

Central character is Robert Faehmel. Strongly antiwar, hated the guts of Germany's militaristic leaders during both world wars yet, due to circumstances of self-preservation, became a commander of retreating German forces [mainly due to his expertise in blowing things up:] during the waning days of the second war and was responsible for the senseless demolit
...more
Maria
Jul 03, 2014 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: klassiekers
Ongeveer een half jaar geleden heb ik dit boek gelezen er is dus helaas wel het nodige weggezakt in m’n herinnering. Maar wilde er graag toch nog wat over plaatsen. Het is zeker geen gemakkelijk boek en ik had bijna het bijltje erbij neergegooid. Het ontvouwt zich langzaam voor je en als je klaar bent, zou je zo weer opnieuw kunnen beginnen. En voor een goed begrip zou dat wellicht heel goed zijn!

De dramatische gebeurtenissen betreffen drie generaties Fühmel (allen architect) maar spelen zich al
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
466. Billiards At Half-Past Nine, Heinrich Böll
بیلیارد در ساعت نه و نیم - هاینریش بل (سروش) ادبیات آلمان
atefe
Dec 11, 2015 atefe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-to-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mehrdadmb
May 27, 2017 Mehrdadmb rated it liked it
کتاب روایت یک روز یک خانواده آلمانی در آلمان 1958 یعنی سیزده سال پس از اتمام جنگ است و از زبان راوی های متعددی روایت می شود خانواده فهمل که معمار هستند و روزهای سختی را پشت سر گذرانده اند. کتاب پر است از تک گویی های متعدد شخصیت ها،سیلان جریان ذهنی آنها ، هذیان گویی و پرش های زمانی که مدام بین حال و گذشته در تغییر است. همچنین به آیین مسیحیت در کتاب توجه ویژه ای شده است. اکثر شخصیت ها عصیانی به سیاستمداران، نظامیان و حتی مسیحی های گرگ صفت دارند. برای اینکه از جریان کتاب دور نشوی باید به سختی به بد ...more
Arukiyomi
Sep 16, 2016 Arukiyomi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
This was an interesting novel to pick up a few days after finishing Cat and Mouse by Günter Grass. There are a lot of parallels in the prose of Grass and Böll. Both feature narrators who are less than reliable, there is a complex chronology in both, and both cover the period of WW2 and/or its aftermath from a Germanic perspective.

But Böll’s work is definitely the more complex in terms of its storytelling if not its imagery. Set over three generations of architects and told from the perspective o
...more
Jeremy
Jan 10, 2016 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Why letters?” Faehmel had said, “we don’t want to collect confessions here, do we?”


And Böll’s story is a fantastic collection of different confessions from different people to different people, including themselves. It is stylistically both playful and challenging. Sometimes, you get the impression that the characters are standing on a stage, and the light goes on one of them, and they speak to themselves, or to the others; but the ones in the dark don’t speak back, the one in the light speaks
...more
Bob
Sep 23, 2014 Bob rated it it was amazing
While it is tempting to generalize about all mid-20 century German writers struggling with their national disaster, I'll just note that much of Böll's first decade as a writer is focused on the Nazi rise to power and WWII (not until the political upheavals of the 70s does he firmly land on new ground).

From a pacifist family and having refused to join the Hitler Youth, Böll was nonetheless conscripted and saw war both at its most gruesome and as one alienated from the unifying ideology. This nov
...more
Amir
یک اتفاق از داستان -اتفاقات داستان مدام یادآوری میشوند- هذیانگویی کودکی در حال مرگ است. این هذیان در شخصیتهای دیگر و حتی در ساختار روایی داستان هم به چشم میخورد؛ مونولوگهای بلند با پرشهای زمانی چند ساله و تکرار یک مفهوم از یک طرف و از طرف دیگر در هم تنیده شدن راویان تا آنجا که در یک پاراگراف روایت از زبان یک یوهاناست و در پایان همان پاراگراف یوهانا به یوهانای دیگری تغییر میکند. راوی عوض میشود ولی روایت همان میماند.

بُل، مالیخولیای دورانی را که از جنگ اول آغاز شد، هرجا که توانسته نشان داده، آن که
...more
Pascale
Feb 13, 2017 Pascale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Geen vlot leesbaar boek, maar hoe mooi! De wijze waarop Böll de tijd beschrijft, gewoonweg meesterlijk. Beslist een aanrader.
Laurence
Jan 27, 2017 Laurence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001
Krachtige thematiek, bijzonder mooie taal, knap geconstrueerd. Het boek leest als een stroom waarin je je moet laten meeslepen/meesleuren. Een stroom waarbij je constant wisselt tussen personages en tijdstippen. Want ja, een mooi boek is dit zeker.
En toch heb ik met twee dingen moeite:
- Dit boek is ontzettend lastig om te lezen. Ik ga een uitdagend boek niet uit de weg, maar op het einde moet ik wel het gevoel hebben dat het de moeite waard geweest is. Hier had ik het gevoel: "OK, ik snap nu het
...more
Andrew
This is one of my first forays (and perhaps, come to think of it, my very first) into postwar German literature. Through use of flashbacks, Böll sets up this very retrospective but entirely non-nostalgic sensibility, using a time of peace and prosperity as a highly effective counterpoint to a time of war and political extremism. Throughout, Böll utilizes a cool, languid tone. This gives the novel a certain Brechtianism, encouraging a critical perspective, albeit one undertoned with a strong sens ...more
Stacey
Jul 18, 2013 Stacey rated it it was amazing
It's a perfect book: sad but magnificent. It makes you think about the way history goes, and about people who are just nothing in the timeline. This story teaches us how it's important to know who you are and how it's important to do what you want to do not looking at the society's opinion. The history of the country within the history of the family. Perfect.
Ashkan
Dec 08, 2014 Ashkan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
حواست جمع باشد، پسر جان، هر جا از مزرعهها دود بلند شد و جنگلها پژمردند، بدان که در آنجا نان و نمک گرگ کالایی است متبرک و مقدس

سخنان یوهانا کیلب در آسایشگاه روانی دنکلینگن، برگردان کیکاووس جهانداری، از صفحهٔ ۱۶۲ چاپ دوم ۱۳۹۱ نشر ماهی
...more
Kate
Jan 31, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
This is among the best books I have read, and reread, many times. Heinrich Boll was a thoughtful, anxious writer, who saw much, and I wonder how much of what he saw and felt he didn't tell (this in the face of some very honest, sometimes damning books. I just believe there was more).
Shokufeh شکوفه  Kavani کاوانی
کتابهائ هاینریش بل همواره نفس آدم را بند میاورند و نمیتوانی تا تمامشان کنی ؛ آنها را به زمین بگذاری.
Lena
May 06, 2017 Lena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2008 zum ersten Mal gelesen, in einer Übersetzung, und jetzt zum zweiten, diesmal in der Originalausgabe. Schon damals war ich von der Sprache hingerissen - fließend, wie ein Gedicht, schmerzend, wie eine Beichte, unendliche Passagen, die einen in die Wirbel der Zeit hineinsaugen. Es ist eine Geschichte über Menschen, die mit der Zeit in der sie lebten keine Versöhnung finden, Menschen, die ohne viel zu bereden und Fragen zu stellen, einfach weiterleben und deren innigen Gewissensstimme gehorche ...more
Beatlezu
May 22, 2017 Beatlezu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maravilloso!
Este libro me salió muy pero muy barato y después de terminarlo, lo siento como un tesoro. La prosa de este escritor es nueva para mi, muy hermosa. Compré este libro creyendo que era novela negra o de gansters (no se porqué, ve tú a saber)- y lo empecé a leer sin saber nada, sin expectativas, sin investigar siquiera un poquito. Cuando iba a mitad de camino me preguntaba '¿dónde está la mafia? ¿porqué hablan de guerra y que tiene que ver una familia de arquitectos en todo esto?' XD .
...more
Ali Heidari
Oct 29, 2014 Ali Heidari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ر این کتاب سه نسل از خانواده فهمل مورد بررسی قرار می گیرند پدربزرگی که با ساختن کلیسایی به شهرت می رسد پسری که کلیسا را منفجر می کند و نوه ای که در حال بازسازی همان کلیساست . هر کدام از آنها انگیزه خاص خود را دارند ، انگیزه فردی در دوران قبل از جنگ ، در دوران جنگ و در دوران پس از جنگ ....نمادی از جنگ و مذهب در زندگی مردم

قهرمان داستان ما هر روز ساعت نه و نیم تا 11 در هتل بیلیارد بازی می کند هر چند هدف او بازی نیست هدف او دنبال کردن حرکت توپها و نظم و قانون و یک روند منظم و یاداوری اتفاقات گذشته ا
...more
Atena
Jun 18, 2016 Atena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
بی جهت نبایدخاطره ای راکه منجمدشده وادار به ذوب شدن کرد،در آن صورت این تکه های یخ تبدیل به آب کثیف ولزجی می شود و می چکد. هیچ چیز را نباید زنده کرد،از ذهن نرم و نازک شده ی آدم بالغ نباید خواست که شدت و حدت احساسات کودکانه را دوباره احیا کند و به تجربه دربیاورد، و مثلا نباید به یاد آورد که او حالا چیزی هم می گیرد،احتیاط! زبان را در این مورد نباید به کار انداخت.

هیچ خوب نیست که آدم فرمول ها را از قید انجماد آزاد کند، رازها را در قالب کلمات بریزد.تبدیل خاطره به عاطفه و احساس کار مفیدی نیست، عاطفه نم
...more
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Heinrich Böll became a full-time writer at the age of 30. His first novel, Der Zug war pünktlich (The Train Was on Time), was published in 1949. Many other novels, short stories, radio plays and essay collections followed, and in 1972 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his writing which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterizatio ...more
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“Feelings can kill such good hard things as love and hate.” 13 likes
“ - Хочешь, я сделаю тебя агнцем божьим в моей новой религии? Ты будешь знаменит и богат, они падут пред тобой ниц в ещё более шикарных отелях, чем этот. Ты, видно, новичок и плохо знаешь людей - их скуку можно разогнать только какой-нибудь новой религией, и чем глупее, тем лучше, - нет, убирайся, ты слишком глуп” 3 likes
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