Ever felt for Brutus, or were you a Julius Ceasar fan like me? Well. I switched from Caesar to Brutus with this. Most excellent conflict of the old pa...moreEver felt for Brutus, or were you a Julius Ceasar fan like me? Well. I switched from Caesar to Brutus with this. Most excellent conflict of the old patrician/republican ideals versus the empire attempting to arise. (less)
The writing is gorgeous, though I admit to skipping some colony-related bits post the 50%-mark. Jacob is a pretty disturbing character, and I'm still...moreThe writing is gorgeous, though I admit to skipping some colony-related bits post the 50%-mark. Jacob is a pretty disturbing character, and I'm still not sure whether he's driven insane by some religious guilt or meant to be a sociopath.(less)
Currently reading. My version only has "The Silent Angel".
I picked up one of Boell's short story collection from Amazon.de (I'm a native German speak...moreCurrently reading. My version only has "The Silent Angel".
I picked up one of Boell's short story collection from Amazon.de (I'm a native German speaker), and found it horrendous. Overwrought, immature and quite shockingly black/white.
Figuring he'd just been "oversold" to me (I never read him in school, we did Frisch and Brecht instead), I kinda skipped him for a long while, but then Sebald, I think, mentioned The Silent Angel, so I gave him another go, figuring not every author can write shorts and I better read a novel. I'm currently finding the experience much richer overall. (I want to cut some of his adjectives, but then, I'm an editor and "hunt down every adjective that doesn't put up a damn good fight" is one of those style things that are very much in fashion.)
Right now, it strikes me that the symbolism is very well handled, but so's the fragile humanity of the characters we're supposed to feel for (I do), and the venality of the "evil" people. What strikes me is the emotional "flattening" all of them go through. Hans, the deserter, is clearly suffering from depression/trauma, so's Regina (regina = queen, hearkening back to the madonna motif, especially as she's lost her very young child). Fischer's flattening is different, not induced by trauma, but a genuine distaste for humanity and "boredom". He clings to things because he doesn't care about people (maybe his daughter, right now, the vote is still out), there's a lack of compassion and "caring", while the other characters, traumatised and struggling, still care (Regina), or attempt to care, or to reclaim their basic humanity, even while at the very bottom (Hans). So, the colours are pretty stark, but Boell also has sublime moments where he writes with nothing less than the blood of truth--describing the bombed-out landscape of Koeln, for example, and the whole, sorry state of humanity (the bunker chapter is brilliant).
I'm currently doing a lot of reading on the German WWII experience, and I'm reading Boell to get a "contemporary" view from somebody who was there--though obviously distilled through art.) I'll have to re-read this when I get closer to actually writing that book.
ETA: I read this in German.
ETA2: I finished this. The ending is very open and inconclusive--the main characters are "in love", the good person dies, the bad person thrives. The plot is "barely there", so the writing is really the main thing. It's a dense little package with glimmers of genius.(less)
I was wary when I started this - I bought this a few weeks ago based on the strength of a recommendation from somebody I normally trust, unaware that...moreI was wary when I started this - I bought this a few weeks ago based on the strength of a recommendation from somebody I normally trust, unaware that it was a series of four lectures. And normally that means I'll be bored to tears. (Bad flashbacks ensued from two semesters of studying German literature, an altogether stultifying experience thanks to the toothless and ossified lecturers at my university).
The first lecture, on collective memory regarding the air raids and aftermath, takes about 50% of the book and is a five-star read (all the quotes I typed up are from there). The clarity and restraint of the prose is awe-inspiring. Writing like *that* about something like *that* is a Herculean achievement.
The next two lectures deal with individual German authors that I'd heard about, Alfred Andersch being drawn as a self-important ass who re-edited his past in a manner that makes you cringe: first divorcing his Jewish wife to gain access to the Nazi-run Writer's Association - a prerequisite to getting published - then claiming her as his wife when it was expedient (in American captivity, though calling her a "half Jewish mongrel"). The next lecture deals with Amery, a survivor of the Nazi terror, adding a very impressive study to my previous knowledge of Primo Levi's account.
I did not care for the last lecture, on Peter Weiss. It just didn't quite hang together for me - and I thought the analysis was the weakest, so a bit of a downer to end the book on. I understand why he was included, as Weiss laboured under being both Jewish and German, so he fits into the larger context, but I enjoyed the other parts of the book a great deal more.
Above all, the sources he cited triggered my historian/packrat reflex and drove me back to buy further books.(less)
UPDATE: We're selling Gold Digger at $1 off to say "thank you" to all the Special Forces supporters over the years. Thanks, guys!
25 August: Came back from editor with a comment that the ending was rushed and not very satisfactionary.
(Weekend: Spent editing 40k and writing a new ending of 5k. Also fixed embarrassing research mistakes. I'm an ex-finance journo, I should know better. Also spend a delightful hour playing "hostile corporate takeover" with my partner. No, it didn't happen in the bedroom.
28 August 2012: This is now out to betas who know stuff about Canada. Expecting to see new version from editor today.)
29 August 2012: Canadian betas have come back with good stuff to be included/edited/fixed. Also, we have a blurb and a website.
30 August 2012: Edits back on my desk. Minor tweaks and incorporating Canadian feedback now. (later) Edits back to second editor. It's taking shape.
1 September 2012: Editor feedback on the first 75% in a nutshell: "They fuck like rabbits, so this is way hotter than you said, also, the sex is really hot. Both guys are intensely likeable, but the emotional arch needs tweaking." - I'd call that a RAGING RAINBOW CONFETTI-EXPLODING success. Whew.
3 September 2012: Two more editing passes over the weekend, fine-tuning some motivation and pacing, but nothing major. Back to editor early in the morning. It's a wrap. Now off to get proofed and laid-out. Also, we're selling it cheaper than the length suggests to say "thank you" to SF readers/supporters.
7 September 2012: Back from proofing
8 September 2012: Off to be laid out.
Random Other Note: This is a sweet and light contemporary. Yes it is, hand on heart. Though it does feature Vadim. (less)