All the lights by Clemens Meyer
German fiction short stories
Translation by Katy Derbyshire
Clemens Meyer is the rising star of german literature ,he grew up in former east germany had a number of jobs such as fork lift driver ,construction whilst writing he has published three books in germany ,this is the first to be translated into english and the second book to be published by new Publisher and other stories it is out today 1 september .the book is translated by berlin based Katy Derbyshire .Rob of rob around books says he has a Aura around him as he saw him recently when he appeared at the Edinburgh book festival .
Well were to start with all the lights .First of it’s a collection of 15 short stories ,I was first told about it by Stuart Evers who wrote the forward at the Independent foreign fiction prize night .What the stories about well the stories on the whole are all set in the former east germany where Clemens grew up ,the characters in the stories are on the edge of life ,the underclass ,boxers and down and outs .AH now when I read this first off I was going to compare him to Raymond Carver and Charles Bukowski ,But to be honest that is lazy of me just to say oh here is a collection on european lowlife and of course the nearest comparison is the two best known American writers in that vogue ,but no there is a line in these stories too the turn of century works of Alfred Doblin ,Paul Leppin and so on where peole struggled as well like in a lot of these stories .The book isn’t tinge in what the Germans östalgie the former east germans that what to go back to the old east germany no its in the present as people struggling to cope with life in the new Germany where the state isn’t god like in the former east .I don’t like giving away many storylines in short story collections as it nice to find them as your read them so will mention my favourite in the collection which is of dogs and horse some of you may recognise it as it was in the guardian ,this is the story of Rolf and his dog Piet(named after Pete Sampras) ,one morning Piet develops a limp and goes to the vet he is a Doberman /rottweiler cross and has inherited the condition hip dysplasia and the operation to save Piet pain and a shorter life is a lot .This sends Rolf into the world of gambling to try to raise the required funds to help his beloved dog .As you can imagine this story really touched me as a dog owner I felt Rolf’s pain and he desire to help his dog at all costs as it is something I would do my self .
“Piet ” said Rolf ,what’s up with you ,boy you’re not old yet .Piet stood there in the middle of the pavement ,his back legs far apart ;he stood there as if straggling something ,looking at him with his dark eyes .He pulled on the leash but the dog didn’t move .He squatted down in front of him and stroked his head .”Whats up boy ,what’s the matter,shall we just have a bit of a rest ? You’ll be all right in a minute ,won’t you Piet ?”
Piet the dog isn’t himself ,a quote from “of dogs and horses “.
There is something about this collection that will stick with me a long time to come ,of dogs and horses in particular ,really touch me and I must admit it brought a tear to this readers eye which is something that rarely happens .Like with the other book out from and other stories ,they’ve found a unique voice the “tattoo man of german literature” as he is called in a welt article I read about him , Meyers is the voice of the east ,he is tackling the present as it is faced by a large number of the young former east German men as on the whole its a man’s world in these stories .I enjoy Katy Derbyshire translation she manage to keep the masculine nature of the stories intact The book was sent to me to review .
What is your favourite European short story writer ?