Boyd's Reviews > Das Wochenende

Das Wochenende by Bernhard Schlink
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's review
Mar 07, 2011

did not like it
Read in March, 2011

It's hard to imagine that a boring novel could be written about characters based on the Baader Meinhof gang, but here it is. Schlink takes a riveting moment in modern German history, reimagines it as if the core members of the RAF had lived on into middle age, and then turns it into a lot of talky soul-searching by barely differentiated characters. Women are particularly ill-served and do little more than hover around the perimeter making coffee and providing coddling and sex. (It calls to mind Stokely Carmichael's savory comment that "the only position for women in SNCC is prone.")

The author herds all these people into a weekend at a country house (cliche alert!) so that the requisite shocking revelations can be made. A figure based on Ulrike Meinhof's disaffected daughter obligingly appears, and a gratuitous and distasteful chapter on the World Trade Center catastrophe is casually thrown in to prove, I suppose, that terrorism is a world-wide problem.

"The Big Chill"--with which THE WEEKEND has been compared--wasn't exactly a masterpiece, but this book is worse, because it aspires to something grander and more important.

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