Axolotl roadkill by Helene Hegeman
Translator Katy Derbyshire
source review copy
Now Helene Hegeman is the voice of a new German generation of writers this her debut novel she wrote when she was just 18 she had already caught the eye in germany via her blog .It has caused a storm of controversy when it came out in Germany ,even more when it was found out she had sourced some of the passages from another book on the berlin club scene .Any way she isn’t the first to use other writers work to help there book or the last I would imagine .So what has the voice of generation zero got to say ,this the first real digital generation grown up in mobiles and computers as thou they where part of them .
I grew up wild and I want to stay wild .It’s 3am and my partied-out body is sitting in a taxi ,submerged or death in its role as a victim .The driver telling me about his son,who left his wife after ten years ,and about his own wife ,who is cheating on him ,and about god ,with whom he claims to have a pretty good connection .
From the forward and haven’t we all had these taxi rides ?
The book is the story of Mifti she is young in fact I picture her as the same age as Helene Heggmann ,as part of this feels like Heggmann has written about her own life in a way she was from a broken family and her mother died .Anyway back to Mifti she is the youngest in a family by a long way all her siblings have grown up and left home and she is the last one at home and is a very rebellious teen . She has a huge problem with her mother that seems didn’t want Mifti well in Mifti’s eyes .So she discovered her most private thoughts have been read by her mother in her secret diary and descends into a scene of drugs clubs and sex .We see this through her own eyes and also via e-mail ,also each chapter is the title from a song or programme almost giving you a soundtrack to the book .How will it end .Did her mother want her ? Well these are all answered in the book .But I will give you one answer and the is the title of the book an Axolotl is a small amphibian that is popular as an exotic pet to keep because of its strange look and almost smile like face .Yes Mifti tuns into one in the course of the book .
Now this is a coming of age book,part of me had to draw my forty-year old self back to my own late teens and early twenties to see if I could associate Mifti and the answer is yes ?(I always like to do this for coming of age although I have come of age would I like to do it now or then is what I always look to compare ) I could see her life ,in a way had echos of my own, ok I never club in a big city that often but I went of the rails a bit drank partied more than I should have done and railed against my parents .Mifti is maybe a little more extreme than mine, but I feel her life would ring true with most modern teens .As for Hegeman borrowing parts of the books from other books or mixing it as she calls ,ok she should sort this before people discovered it ,but the book doesn’t read as thou it is stitched together and as she has grown up in an age of dance music which on the whole tends to sample and mix together other people’s work into something new .I feel this is the first in what maybe a great new voice in german writing but time will tell it is an accomplished debut by a young writer .She has also raised is this maybe the way fiction could go like dance and other media boring from other people’s work could we see Joyce’s books brought to a modern Dublin ?
Have you read this book ?
Do you see a future in people mix other people’s books ?