Raw material by Jörg Fauser


Raw Material by Jörg Fauser

German literature

Original title – Rohstoff

Translator – Jamie Bulloch

Source – review copy



In Berlin, by the wall
you were five foot ten inches tall
It was very nice
candlelight and Dubonnet on ice

We were in a small cafe
you could hear the guitars play
It was very nice
it was paradise

You’re right and I’m wrong
hey babe, I’m gonna miss you now that you’re gone
One sweet day

Lou reeds Berlin maybe one best sound track songs to this book source

Jörg Fauser was a huge name in the underground literature culture of Germany when he was writing , Grew up in Frankfurt , but then he lived in squats around Europe Istanbul , Berlin and even North Africa as he tried to live life ,like the  Beat writers that he so admired .He was greatly drawn to the Beat writers of America admiring the cut up style of Willam Burroughs and also the hard-boiled crime of the likes of Hammett and Chandler , he wrote a number of crime novels that were well received at time and a have been published in English .He also tried his hand as a song writer .But this book isn’t a crime novel , no it’s the full on vision of a man as a writer at the time Fauser was a writer .His lead character is indeed an alter ego of him .

As they didn’t rake enough with their five storeys , the hotel owners had put another structure on the roof ,The view was overwhelming , as were the heat in the summer and cold in the winter .But for two marks a day we could enjoy the same panorama for which tourists would have shell out twenty or fifty times as much .And we could get ours on credit

Living cheap seeing the blue mosque from a makeshft home on a roof in a hotel in Istanbul .

As I said Raw material is the story of a writer Harry Gelb , he happens to follow the same path as fauser did in his life , living in Istanbul and then Berlin .what we see is a man who loves the beat writers and the lifestyle in the books trying to live out this lifestyle in europe living on rooftops in Istanbul writing in oilskin notebooks about his life their , then a return to Germany to the bohemian Berlin and trying to get noticed publishing Magazines .All the time ,  meeting girls drinking taking drugs .All the time writing and trying to find someone to publish his masterpiece Stamboul blues .Harry tries to get noticed but is thwarted at every turn it seems , his book is great every one says so but it is maybe to modern for the time .He also falls for many women along the way .Bur does get to meet one of his hero’s Burroughs as he tries to make it .

I was on my way – and how! I tried to explain to Burroughs that I’d been a junkie myself for four years , and in my report I also wanted to write about how one could get off the gear .Burroughs had managed it with apomorphine .Apomorphine was unknown in Germany .That’s why i was here .He lit another cigarette .He smoked filterless senior service chain-smoked them ,

“What sort of stuff did you take ?”

“Oh , opium mainly .”

“What raw opium ? You didn’t take it intravenously did you ?”

“Yes I did .”

“Young man ,” Burroughs said , with the hint of a smile , “you must have been out of your mind .”

Harry gets to interview both his and Fauser’s  own hero William Burroughs .

What we see in this book is a side of German life that isn’t always been shown in LIterature in translation , I was luckily enough to catch on to the very tail end of this life when I lived in Germany twenty years ago , a life of small pubs , people meeting and doing arty thing seeing small bands going to make shift clubs .This is the same world that gave us the great film directors like Wim Wender and Rainer Fassbinder ,we see the Berlin that also had the likes of Nick Cave and David Bowie making some of their greatest records at the time .In Harry Gelb , we see what life was like for Fauser the ups and the downs the dreams and disappointments of the world he lived in .Fauser story is sad he died under strange circumstances aged only 43 having a life similar to Harry his character doing meaningless jobs and writing underground magazines and trying to break through to be a big writer like his Hero’s .Fauser also wrote songs I found this on you tube by Achim Reichel who he wrote songs for .


Have you a favourite writer from the Counter Culture side of German life ?

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MarinaSofia
    Nov 11, 2014 @ 20:07:47

    Oooh, intriguing again: you are seriously subverting my book-buying ban! This is the kind of life I love reading about…


  2. Mytwostotinki
    Nov 12, 2014 @ 11:03:52

    Glad you like the book as much as I do (see my review). Fauser was really really good in my opinion. Other German counter-culture writers from that period I can recommend: Rolf Dieter Brinkmann (four collections of poetry have been translated to English), Bernward Vesper (Die Reise, not sure if it is translated), Hubert Fichte (especially Die Palette and Versuch über die Pubertät, not translated yet to my knowledge). Among the younger authors also Clemens Meyer may be considered to be part of that group of authors (so far only one book translated: All the Lights and Other Stories).


  3. Jody
    Nov 13, 2014 @ 17:26:42

    Thank-you for bringing this book to my attention. I will add it to my list for the November German Literature Month.


  4. 1streading
    Nov 13, 2014 @ 20:19:45

    This sounds intriguing but as I’ve never taken to the American Beat writers I wonder if I would like it. (Although I love the cover)


  5. Caroline
    Nov 14, 2014 @ 10:57:04

    I read a couple of his books and he’s really special. I haven’t read this though but I know I will. You capture this time in Germany very well. Like your comparison to the Wim Wender’s movie.


  6. Max Cairnduff
    Nov 20, 2014 @ 12:41:36

    Interesting. I have his The Snowman, which Guy Savage reviewed. You’ve certainly put him back on my radar. Anyone who loves the Beats can’t be all bad (actually, that’s massively untrue, even the Beats themselves were pretty erratic).


  7. Trackback: Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer | Winstonsdad's Blog
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November 2014


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