Gone to ground by Marie Jalowicz Simon

Gone to Ground

Gone to ground by Marie Jalowicz Simon

German Memoir

Original title – Untergetaucht

Translator – Anthea Bell

Source – Library book

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

Oh, you’re right and I’m wrong
you know I’m gonna miss you now that you’re gone
One sweet day
One sweet day

I choose Berlin by Lou Reed as in this book it is the character in the background

I want to add a few non fiction works for this German lit month and this is one I found in my library system. Marie Jalowicz Simon lived in Berlin all through the second world war even thou she was a Jews, she hid and change  her identity to escape capture. Shortly before her death her son Hermann got her to tell her story and this book was put together from the tapes Hermann her son recorded and the writer Irene Stratenwerth to make this book of her war years.

A few months later, on 18 march 1941, my father died. He must have guessed that it was coming. A few day before his death the notes in his diary that he kept, finally, in five-pfennig octavo notebooks, were headed, “like being on the high seas”. He must have been feeling as if he were seasick. He had lain down for a moment , he wrote, he had felt so dizzy, and then it had passed over. But he had realised this was a case of life or death

Her father’s death after he has to stay unable to get out of Germany .

Gone to ground follows Marie’s story from telling of her youth a Berlin with a lively Jewish population to the first signs of the future when the Nazi’s take power. Her father attempts to get them to safety fail when he can’t a permit to travel in 1941 to Palestine as he is unable to be a lawyer under the Nazi rule. At this point the family is in forced Labour and everyday she is seeing those around her disappear at this point with a little help Marie disappears into the city where she will spend the next few years traveling from cellar to flats  staying in hiding. Going deeper as what she called a Uboat after she was nearly caught  she is helped by a collection of characters some with good intentions others with bad wanting a young woman in their home. But Marie manages to get through just to study after the war and make her living translating .

Little girl

All alone

to the Heller’s house has gone

what a fuss, who’s to blame?

I must bear it all the same.

As so often, I was singing to myself in my mind as I carried my suitcase from Schierker Strasse to Schinleinstrasse. It was a day late in february 1943. I wondered whether it was wicked to sing when Heller was possibly being tortured to death at this very minute. then I adapted a little more of the” Hanschen Klein” nursery rhyme to suit my own situation.

Never fear

be of good cheer

Things may yet be better here

The first winter Marie is in Berlin on the fun going from place to place .

This is one of those stories that needs to be told , we all have to be thankful to her son for recording his mother’s story one of the few Jews to make it through the war in the heart of the Nazi war machine Berlin. The story has been well put together by the writer and what is Marie’s voice shines through a strong young woman, her luck in find a block of flats whom tenants help her for most of the war, thus making one feel the strength of the human spirit in the darkest times. I said when I got this book it had reminded me of the great German Film Europa Europa another true story of a young Jewish boy who decide to become an Aryan and get through the war that way.Both show how the drive to survive can drag people through the darkness either trying to fit in or trying to hide. This is a powerful book to sit alongside the like of Primo Levi and Anne frank as a testament to how people escaped some got through and others didn’t .

Have you read this book ?

Woman of the dead by Bernhard Aichner

Woman of the dead by Bernhard Aichner

Austrian fiction

Original title Totenfrau

Translator – Anthea Bell

Source – library

Just remember that death is not the end
For the tree of life is growing
Where the spirit never dies
And the bright light of salvation
Up in dark and empty skies
When the cities are on fire
With the burning flesh of men
Just remember that death is not the end
When you search in vain to find
Some law-abiding citizen
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end
Not the end, not the end
Just remember that death is not the end

I choose the end of death is not the end a Dylan song Mark’s death was not the end of this story .

I tossed and turned where to start my german lit month reviews and I choose this as I don’t really read a lot of thrillers so when I read one and enjoy it, I feel it must be a good book also it was translated by one of the greatest living German translators Anthea Bell. Bernhard Aichner started out as a photographer working for an Austrian paper and at the same time in his spare time starting to write short stories.He has written a number of novels this is the first of two books in this series and was published in 2014 where it was a bestseller both in his native Austria and German.

Eight years ago, they touched each other for the first time. He put his arms around her on the boat. He was wonderful man, right from the very first moment when he was there, taking care of her. Mark waited with her until the coastguard arrived, until she had answered hundreds of questions. He simply stayed by her side. Talking to the police officers on the case

Blum meet mark after her own incident eight years earlier .

This is the story of Blum she is a woman that at very start of the book has it all Marriage , children, yes she has a dark humor and rides a bike but on the surface everything seems ok. But then her lover Mark a policeman is killed in a hit and run . This starts a chain reaaction that sets her on a course to get revenge on the men that killed her lover .Blum isn’t what she first seems no she has a very dark past that this one event has unlocked so she starts out to get the five people she finds had wanted her lover Mark gone to find out what happened  and seek her own personnel revenge on them .

Blum looks around the room, at his computer, his files, and a thousand other things lying just as he left them twenty-two days ago when he rode off. Everything here is waiting for him to come back; objects that want to be touched, tools that want to be used .

Blum goes to marks work place after he is found dead .

Well it’s hard to not think kill bill when you read what I wrote about this book.It is even mention in the inside cover yes Blum is rather like the Bride or even Lisbeth whom  also mentioned . This book had a cinematic thriller pace to it, you get the fact the Aichner is a photographer in the way he writes his scenes they a clean like the way a great photograph works looking simple and telling you all that is possible with in a small space of one shot. Blum is the original revenge killer a woman wioth her own hidden past that takes a death to relight. I liked the die  welt description of her taking these five rotten apples and squashing them under her feet , yes she is pruning the world and  like with a flower when they are rotting you have to dead head them.As I said I am not a huge Crime thriller reader so when I find one I like I note the writer down Bernhard Aichner is a writer I will be trying again .

Have you a favourite German crime/thriller writer ?

Bunker by Andrea Maria Schenkel

Bunker - Andrea Maria Schenkel cover

Bunker by Andrea Maria Schenkel

German Crime fiction

Original title – Bunker

Translator – Anthea Bell

Source – Personnel copy

glm_iii

Andrea Maria Schenkel is probably the best known German crime writer ,translated into English .her first novel murder farm was published in German in 2006 and has since been made into a radio drama ,she has used well-known German crime  case to base her books partly on but this book is a truly fictitious crime .she has won a number of prizes for her books .She currently lives in New York .

I still have to get the Keys .They’re in the bedroom , on the bed .Back into the bunker .Damn the paraffin lamps have burnt out ,even thou I had two for each room in it .Funny ,I thought those things lasted longer .What a waste ,six lamps in three rooms .

The opening lines and why the need for lamps and to be in the bunker ?

Bunker is the tale of a kidnapping the title refers to where the woman who has been kidnapped .Monica is  being held by a kidnapper  .The book unfolds in an unusual narrative style where as opposed to a beginning middle and end to the story we see all three of these parts happen at once so the event leading up to the kidnapping of Monica ,the time she spent with the kidnapper and the rescue of her are all told in changing chapters .Monica doesn’t initially know why she has been kidnap or who could have done this to her see gets small glimpse into what has happen who the kidnapper is and maybe even why she was taken .What has happened in her past  to cause this to happen ?

I lie there on my stomach , the cold cement floor under me .A musty cellar smell .I feel awful .My arms and legs are scratched .My grazes are burning .My head aches he dragged me down to the cellar by my hair .Every root of it hurts .My mouth is dry my tongue feels thick and swollen ,glutinous saliva sticking my mouth up .

Monica describing her situation just after the kidnapping .

 

I really fell for Schenkel unusual narrative style in the book it remind me of the way we sometimes see crimes unfold on Tv Crime dramas especially something like CSI were the crime is shown how the crime was done and how the victim and criminal were dealt with even why the crime was done and not always in the order they happened .The setting was caught so well the room Monica was held in and the conditions she found herself in ,made my skin creep at times .I will be going back to the other books schenkel have written to find if this style she writes in is carried on in her other books .As ever Bell has done a great job on the translation .I am actually not a huge crime fiction fan but this book has gone to the top of my list of all time favourites .

Have you a favourite translated crime novel ?

 

Letter from an unknown woman by Stefan Zweig

Letter from an unkown women Zweig

Letter from an Unkown by Stefan Zweig

Translator – Anthea Bell

Original title – Brief einer Unbekannten

Source – library

Well I have reviewed review a Zweig before the post office girl ,I really enjoyed that book and wonder why it had taken three years to review another book by him I did read a personnel copy of Journey into the past but as usual i was rather over ambitious in my reading and quite slow in my reviewing so my review of that will be up at some point probably later in year when German lit month runs round again any way to this book which is a new collection of one long novella and three short novellas / short stories any way the all have female as a main character or narrator I think that is the main connection between them .Also love in its many forms links them .

I have taken a fifth candle over to the table where I am writing to you now .For U cannot be alone with my dead child without weeping my heart out ,and to whom am I speak, in this terrible hour if not to you ,who were and are everything to me ?

Part of the letter from the unknown woman .

Letter from an unkown woman is the main story in the book and the main one I am going to mentions as of the four piece in this book it struck me as the strongest in both Narrative and Plot .The story revolves around a letter that has been sent to a famous writer .A thirteen page letter from this women is a life story a young girl has a crush a famous writer ,she then grows works in a shop  ,yet over time ,this is actually his neighbour but he has never noticed her ,sad and love that has gone unreturned ,but then there is a meal and something else happens .Other stories see a women met a man she was once head or heels in love with but he has change since she last saw him into a total bore .

My dear Ellen,

I know you will be surprised to receive a letter from me after so long ; it must be five or perhaps even six years since I last wrote to you .I believe that then it was a letter of congratulations on your youngest daughters marriage .This time the occasion is not so festive ,and perhaps my need to confide the details of a strange encounter to you ,

A women tells her friend of meeting some one she once loved in The debt paid late .

These like the other books I’ve read by Stefan Zweig show the strength of his female voice I think of all the male writers I ve ever read Zweig’s female voice seems to be the best I ve read ,never sure if part of it is in my head I always have a fixed view of his women a sort mix of merchant ivory” room with a view “characters mixed with the females from Gustav Klimt’s paintings but any way it works for me .He is also very much of that age of looking at relationship and love the follow on from the like of Freud analysis in fiction what make females tick is very much his think ,also class which at the time he wrote still means a lot .I also  think ,Like in  a recent discussion with Tony about another prolific writer Llosa(I know he is modern and latin american but he writes a lot of good books ) ,Zweig is a master of good writing ,steady  maybe not spectacular .I know in some places his writing has been discussed as overrated but unfortunately I am in the other camp that feels he is an important writer that needs to be kept in the public eye .Ok he may not be a Porsche (But we all want a 911 as a kid ,well I did as they are flash and fast ,but on the whole unpractical for everyday life ,sorry to any readers that on one ) no Zweig is an AUDI( reliable, dependable and a car that goes past and you say I like one of them ) so I hope you get my meaning he is a writer that no matter which book it is a short story ,novella or novel you seem to finish feeling you’ve been in the hand of a master .

Have you a favourite book by Him ?

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