Erik Graff's Reviews > Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man: The Early Years

Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man by Thomas Mann
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's review
Aug 29, 2008

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bookshelves: literature
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Recommended for: Mann fans
Read in August, 1978 — I own a copy , read count: 1

I read this book in Tonsberg, Norway while visiting Mother's sister Babs' family there. Specifically, I recall reading it in their yard during breaks while cutting their enormous lawn and while on the tor overlooking the mid-sized town while visiting the remains of a viking longhouse there.

1978 was the year I finished the M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Mother had visited early that spring, enroute home to Norway after the failure of her second marriage, and had invited me to come to visit when done with school and work in Manhattan.

I waited until I had moved everything by van to storage in Park Ridge, then flew via New York, Iceland and Sweden to Oslo where I was greeted by Mother and family members. It was my first visit since 1962.

Not having cut my hair since being told to do so by the high school dean of students, it was rather long by 1978. Aunt Else, Mother's younger sister, thought it hideous. Cleverly, she suggested I kept it out of some perverse vanity. Not liking to think of myself as vain, claiming it was no great matter one way or the other, I submitted to a coin toss. She won. The hair went.

By the time the middle sister, Babs, got me out to Tonsberg, I was thoroughly presentable. Babs, her second husband and their children lived in a very large nineteenth century house on the outskirts of town, a house heated by a tile fireplace extending from floor to ceiling, a house with a huge dining room very rarely used, a house they only half-occupied.

Babs was my favorite aunt, having been the only one of Mother's two sisters to have visited us in the States when I was a child and being the intellectual of the distaff side of the family. Her husband, a successful capitalist, was a good hiker with a very unNorwegian golf hobby. Every night the three of us would go mushrooming in the forest near their home under the long twilight of the midnight sun, having a variegated supper of fried fungus and conversation before retiring. Unlike most family members, theirs' seemed a good marriage and I enjoyed the two visits with them despite days spent mostly alone while Uncle Tootan was at work.

Consequently, I spent many hours doing chores, like lawn cutting, and reading. The interest in Mann dated back to freshman year in college and Krull was one of the few novels I hadn't yet read except as collected in its prior, short story version. Frankly, I didn't much like it, but, then, it was left unfinished by the author's death.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Perry I 'love' the way you write. The review of this book just reinforces my opinion that you should write your own book . . . yes yes i know i can read 'everything' [in your reviews]

Erik Graff You are, as is it commonly phrased, too kind.

Incidentally, Tom Kosinski asked me who you are in an email. I vouched for you, but suggest you include your maiden name so old friends may more likely remember you.

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