Category: Fiction

Jun 27 2020

Die Schule der Nackten by Ernst Augustin

You have better things to do with your time than read this book, or at least the latter two-thirds of it. The first-person narrator, Alexander, is interesting, and a bit odd in an interesting way. He’s a historian of sorts, unattached to any academic institute, specializing in the ancient Near East: Chaldean studies, Aramaic studies, …

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Jun 26 2020

Die Rumplhanni by Lena Christ

Die Rumplhanni

Rural Bavaria at the outbreak of the Great War still moved to the rhythms of nature and the seasons. Village life revolved around the inn, the smithy, and the farms that surrounded both. Generations shared the same house, the young people paired up early and had little choice but to stick together, and families kept …

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Mar 27 2020

Salz im Blut by Andreas Neumeister

Salz im Blut

In the early 2000s, I am led to understand, the editors of the Süddeutsche Zeitung found that the paper had more printing capacity than was being used to put out the daily news. One way to set that capacity to productive use was with a foray into book publishing. The newspaper’s staff put together a …

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Mar 19 2020

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

What a lot of fatuous nonsense. First of all, let’s talk about the marketing for this novel. It’s being touted as the story of a Muslim Indian-American family and sure yes, but also it’s a very specific brand of Muslim, a conservative Shi’ah that’s as bizarre to me, raised a mainstream Sunni Muslim, as the …

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Feb 12 2020

The Story of Flamenca: The First Modern Novel, Arranged from the Provencal Original of the Thirteenth Century by William Aspenwall Bradley

What a delightful thing to read in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. Being both thrifty and impatient, I actually read the online copy for free at The Hathi Trust digital library, as the original came out in 1922 and is yet unavailable for e-reader. Since I’ve been listening to Rosalia’s El Mal Querer on …

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Dec 27 2019

Goodbye, Paris by Anstey Harris

There are two really standout things about Anstey Harris’ Goodbye, Paris. The first is the exquisite attention to detail in re: playing music and crafting musical instruments. Ms Harris’ husband is a violin-maker, and you can tell she’s shadowed him quite closely for the purposes of this novel. Her gifts as a writer are even …

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Dec 06 2019

Herrn Dames Aufzeichnungen by Franziska Gräfin zu Reventlow

Herrn Dames Aufzeichnungen

The series introduction to Herrn Dames Aufzeichnungen (Herr Dame’s Notebooks) calls it “the key novel about the Bohemian scene in Schwabing around 1900″ and the volume’s introduction notes that in it Reventlow worked through some of her experiences with the “Cosmic” circle that included writers and artists such as Stefan George (the only name I …

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Oct 26 2019

The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde

The Woman Who Died a Lot

Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series takes place mostly in an England that’s a republic a Wales that’s a socialist republic; of Scotland there is practically no mention, though I cannot say whether that is a comment or happenstance. The Crimean War was still being fought in 1985, and there are various other bits of history …

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Jul 21 2019

Tauben im Gras by Wolfgang Koeppen

Tauben im Gras by Wolfgang Koeppen

Wolfgang Koeppen was born in 1906 and thus grew up in Germany’s Weimar years. He published his first two novels after the Nazi takeover but before the war began. At first, his work as a scriptwriter for film studios in Munich made him exempt from the draft. Following a bomb attack, he went underground and …

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Jul 21 2019

The Night Manager by John Le Carré

The Night Manager by John Le Carré

Not quite 100 pages in on this one, I pronounced the Eight Deadly Words. Sorry, eponymous Jonathan. Even sorrier, Sophie, who lived and died some years before the main action, and who existed to give Jonathan regrets. And perhaps to show that the corrupt Egyptian brothers might be a darker shade of grey than the …

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