February 2006


Die Selbstmord-SchwesternThis weekend I finished reading “The Virgin Suicides” (Die Selbstmord-Schwestern) by Jeffrey Eugenides. A strange and fascinating book! It’s not so much the story that is intriguing (we know from the very first page that the five sisters are going to commit suicide within one year), but the atmosphere that the author creates. The narrator — a man in his forties — remembers the year of the suicides, back in the seventies when he was just a teenager. Written in a report-like prose, full of dark humour and strange details, the novel pulls the reader right into a time when a world was falling apart not only for the young adolescents. I was fascinated by how Eugenides builds a scene of suburban America that is loosing its innocence as the boys are losing theirs while growing up. The suicides and the boys’ investigation of its reasons subsequently become a metaphor for more general changes and loss. Big politics are almost not mentioned, of course, the teenage boys are only interested (well, I’d say addicted to) in the girls of the Lisbon family. But after the first death, their neat Christian order is crumbling apart, like a domino once the first piece has fallen. The Lisbons are an exaggeration (they even seem to live in the fifties still), of course, but through the constant focus of the neighborhood’s boys they appear like focused in a lens. Though the language in the book is very rational, what sticks to my mind is this feeling of change: from childhood to adolescence (eventually the boys have become men), a stable world is breaking, most visible in the neighborhood and the Lisbon family, but affecting everyone’s lives. Glimpses on the boys twenty years later reveal what they have lost: their childhood, their friends and community, their dreams, their loves, their innocence — they are no ‘virgins’ anymore.

P.S. : It’s only revealed late in the book, the setting is a very American suburb of Detroit, actually Grosse Pointe, if that sounds familiar to anybody… And, by the way, the author has been living in Berlin since 1999.

Martin BuchholzGestern endlich mal wieder den Kabarettisten (nein, kein ‘Comedian’) Martin Buchholz live erlebt: Wir waren in den Wühlmäusen, Manjas Geburtstagsgeschenk einlösen. Ich hatte ihn in den letzten Jahren etwas aus den Augen verloren (mein letztes Buchholz-Programm/Buch ist nun auch schon über 10 Jahre alt). Aber der Mann ist immer noch unglaublich wortgewandt und gerade auf der Bühne ein Muss! Sein aktuelles Programm heisst “Freiheit für Angela” — doch das 2005er Wahldebakel dient nur als Sprungbrett fuer Buchholz’ Wortakrobatik und Gedankensprünge und wird offenbar ständig aktualisiert. Im zweiten Teil gab’s ein “Reader’s Digest” oder “Worst of” bisheriger Programme. Alles in allem: sehr empfehlenswert!

Reports of a video showing British troops beating Iraqui youths added another sad chapter to the never ending mess called ‘war against terror’… What’s gonna happen after this if the Muslim world was already so upset by some Muhammad cartoons?

“When asked about the video, Charles Heyman, a former army officer and author of the standard handbook on the British army, said: ‘You can’t send soldiers [to Iraq] without this happening on a regular basis, because they are not policemen.’” Although I do not understand this “because they are not policemen,” it’s more than scary…

Fair & SquareJohn Prine “Fair & Square” — a great album and since last week that’s official: it was awarded with the Best Contemporary Folk Album 2005 Grammy! (John beat The Boss in that category this time…) Relaxed music, wise words from a man who’s seen a lot, very cool…

Actually, a great Grammy category if you have a look at last years’ winners: Steve Earle (2004), Warren Zevon (2003), Bob Dylan (2001 & 1997), Bruce Springsteen (1996) , Johnny Cash (1994)…

5:18pm CET and still not dark…

Johnny CashYeah! “Walk the Line” finally made it to Germany… Can’t wait to see it, though I’m a bit skeptic that Hollywood might have ruined the movie…