Literature

Queer Literature, Queer Art: Quotes & Statements

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For three days in July 2016, the “Empfindlichkeiten” literature festival/conference at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin invited nearly 40 international writers, scholars, artists and experts to disquss the aesthetics, challenges, politics of and differences within queer literature.

Before the conference, all guests wrote short statements – translated into English by Bradley Smith, Simon Knight, Oya Akin, Lawrence Schimel, David LeGuillermic, Pamela Selwyn, Zaia Alexander and Bill Martin.

I read these statements – a digital file of 67 pages – and compiled my favorite quotes.

It’s a personal selection, and all quotes are part of much larger contexts.

Still: to me, this is the – interesting! – tip of a – super-interesting! – iceberg:

queer literary discourse, 2016.

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Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin

Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm.

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I am certain that my writing would be completely different without my being gay. As a queer young person, you grow up with the awareness of living in a society that isn’t made for you. This influenced a particular perspective that expanded to all aspects. Things that are very important for many people don’t affect me much – but I am very touched by other things for which most people are not sensitive. – Kristof Magnusson

Just at the beginning of my career as a writer, in 1996, I was a guest at the national radio show for young writers. The editor asked me whether I planned to write a novel. He thought I couldn’t really accomplish it because my shovel wasn’t big enough. What he meant was that as »a real writer« one would need a shovel big enough to grasp all the worldly experiences, memories, histries, feelings, etc. not just the minor ones. And being a lesbian, my experiences are rather minor, particular and only autobiographical, and therefore cannot really address the big world out there.
I spent a lot of time writing and fighting against this prejudice that straight writers – being mainly »just writers« without labels – write about the world, but gay, lesbian or queer writers write only or mostly about themselves and their lives, even more, they simply write from within themselves. – Suzana Tratnik

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Joachim Helfer, Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm

Joachim Helfer, Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm

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To call a prick a prick is an act of self-assertion as a free man. – Joachim Helfer

To bashfully shroud it does nothing to make the vile pure, but may make the pure appear vile. De Sade is the ancestor of a more modern gay style of provocative divestiture. Jean Genet, Hubert Fichte and others (including myself) work from the assumption that even – or especially! – the most indecent exposure of man’s physical existence can but reveal his metaphysical truth: the untouchable dignity of each and every human being. It is this pure belief that permeates contemporary popular gay culture, from Tom of Finland and Ralf König to the anonymous participants in any Gay Pride Parade. – Joachim Helfer

‘Empfindlichkeiten’ – the motto of our conference hurts. In German, this is a charmingly provocative neologism in the association-rich plural form. Yes, we ARE sensitive. We lesbians, gay men and other kindred of the polymorphously perverse. Not just sensitive like artists are said to be, but over-sensitive in the pejorative sense. And we have every reason to be. Not just in all those countries in Eastern Europe or Africa where people like us are once again being, or have always been, marginalized, beaten, raped and murdered. The massacre in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida on 12 June 2016 is sad evidence that homophobic violence remains an everyday occurrence in liberal western countries too. In places like Germany, where it lies dormant alongside gay marriage, it can all too easily be reawakened (AfD, Pegida, Legida). – Angela Steidele

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Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin

Niviaq Korneliussen, Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm

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In Greenland there is no such thing as a literary environment and therefore no literary debates, not to mention literary debates about homosexuality. Of course books in Greenlandic are published every year, but extremely few have an influence on public debates. There are no festivals, no readings, nor reviews on the local medias. That, in general, causes no development among the few Greenlandic writers. Greenlandic books exist only as decorations – students read them in school, only because it’s mandatory. Very few buy them for private use, and when they do, they finish reading them only to hide them in a shelf to collect dust – Niviaq Korneliussen

When my book, HOMO sapienne, was published, people started to use it for debates; politicians used my phrases, scientist used my criticism of the society, homosexuals cherished probably the very first book about not heterosexual people, and readers discussed the context. Schools invited me to talk about my book and I’ve been participating in many cultural events. The reason for that, I think, is because my book is contemporary and relevant and criticizes people who aren’t used to being criticized. Although my book is being discussed a lot, people in Greenland don’t seem to talk about the fact that there are no straight people in it. I don’t consider my book as being queerliteratur, but you can’t bypass that the characters are queer. – Niviaq Korneliussen

[In Spain,] the Franco Regime continued a long tradition of homophobia on the Iberian Peninsula which once had been, at the end of the Middle Ages, long before the so-called Reconquista, a multicultural society where Arabs, Jews and Christians had coexisted quite peacefully. Among the prejudices towards the ‘Moors’ the Christian Emperors liked to highlight their supposed homosexuality, a feature they later transferred to the Native Americans after the terrible Conquista of South America. The prototypical Other was gay, and vice versa… – Dieter Ingenschay

Some critics find a decline in the production of literature with homosexual subjects after 2007, annus mirabilis which brought two important elements of social change: the above-mentioned Law of Equal Rights and the Law of Historic Memory (Ley de Memoria histórica) which was supposed to help working through the crimes of Franco’s dictatorship. These achievements, as some critics say, produced a decriminalization and hence a ‘normalization’ of the life of gays and lesbians. This is partly true, no doubt, but both laws have not yet really translated into social life. Franco’s followers still have great influence, and conservativism, machismo and the secret influence of the Catholic Church (with their disastrous organizations like the Opus Dei) still force thousands of young people to hide their (sexual) identity, especially in the rural parts of the country, – Dieter Ingenschay

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Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin

Luisgé Martin, Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm

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The paradox that all those who are oppressed sometimes feel: the belief that their oppression offers them an extraordinary tool for personal growth and creativity. In Spain, during the 1980s, it became fashionable to cynically state that “we lived better fighting against Franco” and to insist that censorship forced the great writers to hone their intelligence and imagination. The question could now be reformulated in this way: would gay literature disappear in a hypothetical egalitarian world? Would there cease to be a specifically homosexual creativity when not just legal discrimination, but also social homophobia, disappeared? I don’t think that any reasonable human being would lament that loss, in the case of its ever occurring. – Luisge Martín

Unrequited love. It is a mathematical issue: the homosexual will always be in a minority, will always love he who cannot love him in return. – Luisge Martín

Since the French Revolution at the latest, the entire concept of so-called femininity a genuine masculine, phallological construction, with philosophers, educators, gynaecologists and couturiers responsible for its stability. I consider it more interesting how this construction has more recently been turned inside out in many contexts and also how the artificiality of traditionally highly defined masculinity has been performatively emphasized by women. – Thomas Meinecke

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Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin

Hilary McCollum, Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm

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[…] sexual and romantic relationships between women have been close to invisible. They are largely absent from both the historical record and the literary canon. This absence damages our sense of ourselves, our sexuality and our place in the world. It is as if our lives have been outside the range of human experience until the last fifty or sixty years. We need a lesbian history. But finding it is a bit like searching for buried treasure without a map. There are, however, clues; hints of the past left in diaries, letters and newspaper reports. Novelists are using these glimpses of our lesbian/queer ancestors to rescue the hidden history of relationships between women. For literary historian and novelist Emma Donoghue, writers are “digging up – or rather, creating – a history for lesbians.” – Hilary McCollum

[In Turkey,] there is a predominant attitude along the lines of “Kill me if you like, but DON’T admit that you’re gay.” It’s for this reason that lots of homosexuals get married, and to save face they even have children. […] In other words, homosexuality is still an “issue” which needs to greatly be kept secret, suppressed within the Turkish society. It is a state of faultiness/defectiveness, guilt and an absolute tool of otherization. Especially in Anatolia. I wrote “Ali and Ramazan” to come out against this entire heavily hypocritical, oppressive attitude. – Perihan Mağden

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Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin

Raziel Reid. Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm

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In Canada, where same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005, it can often seem on the surface to be a utopia of acceptance. But as the outrage and protest against my debut Young Adult novel When Everything Feels like the Movies revealed, it’s okay to be gay — as long as being gay means being like everyone else. There was a backlash against the perceived vulgarity and explicitness of the language represented in my novel — language which was often ripped directly from the mouths of the gay youth who composed my inner circle of friends and acquaintances. It appears that in achieving equality in the civilized world, gay culture is being sacrificed. Unity and equality should not have to mean homogenization. The traditions of gay culture for better and worse — the underground camp, irreverence, and brash sexuality cumulative of decades of having been ostracized by mainstream society — is no longer relevant or understood in our modern, equal times. It is therefore the responsibility of LGBT writers to document and immortalize our traditions as our culture shifts so that we don’t lose what makes us unique in order to gain acceptance. Marketing our stories to young readers is paramount to this effort. – Raziel Reid

To be an object of hate speech, to witness floods of hate speech exuded daily by politicians, newspersons, sport coaches, university professors, and clergymen resembles a bad dream. When reading Kafka at thirteen, I experienced a suffocating feeling of immense revulsion and pity. Why was this happening to Gregor? The story didn’t say. But it communicated clearly how vulnerable life becomes as soon as one is transformed into an object of disgust to others. – Izabela Morska

The gay life in Istanbul, as is the case with many others, changed dimension after the occurrences of the GeziPark protests, we can safely say that it has adopted a more organized and daring attitude. The Gay Pride which took place in the summer of 2013, during the GeziPark, was tremendously effusive, and was supported and claimed not only by the gay community, but the heterosexual community also. This great power most probably disturbed the present Turkish administration, for the Gay Pride which took place the following year was met with police raids, and the groups were attacked with gas bombs and the parade suffered a drastic blow. – Ahmet Sami Özbudak

For in an Islamic country, living a free and open homosexual life is unacceptable. If the prevalent Islamic atmosphere increases its intensity and Turkey becomes an even more fanatic Islamic country, the fight for existence for the gay community will become even more difficult. – Ahmet Sami Özbudak

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Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin

Sookee. Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Tobias Bohm.

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I am so glad to see that there are several young queer rappers and djs who can rely on and collaborate with a scene and multiple protagonists who are much like them. These people like me refuse to use discriminatory, hateful language. They empower themselves by combining the personal with the political and build a language that makes them unique as rappers and outspoken as queer fighters, lovers and dreamers. The rap mainstream has slowly come to the point that we can’t be ignored anymore. There is still separation, but no more negation. – Sookee

I have come to the straightforward conclusion that the homosexuality of the author is not necessarily reflected in the content of his or her work, but rather in the way in which he or she looks out on the world. I am thinking, for example, of writers such as Henry James, E.M. Forster or William Somerset Maugham: in their novels and short stories, you hardly ever come across homosexual content, but it is impossible not to sense their homosexual identity. – Mario Fortunato

The notion of a ‘gay literature’ is a product of precisely these discourses of power. It was invented to cement the idea that real literature is straight. In this scenario, gay literature is a niche product that only those directly affected need to bother about. – Robert Gillett

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Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin

Angela Steidele. Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm

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For some 200 years, a particular variant of violence against lesbians was the assertion that we didn’t exist. Until the mid-eighteenth century, sex between women carried a death penalty just as it did between men. It was in the Enlightenment, oddly enough, that male philosophers, jurists and theorists of femininity became persuaded that sex between women could be nothing more than preposterous ‘indecent trifling’. Trapped in their phallocentric worldview, they abolished the penalties for lesbian sex beginning around 1800, because in their opinion there was no such thing (the English and French penal codes had never even mentioned it in the first place). Women-loving women disappeared into non-existence, reappearing in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novels as ghosts and vampires at best, in any case as imaginary beings. […] My work is dedicated to giving the women-loving women of (early) modern Europe back their voices and making their stories known. – Angela Steidele

We have lived through times in which heterosexuals went to great lengths, partially with violence, to separate themselves from homosexuals. As a result, homosexuals began to separate themselves from heterosexuals, a liberation movement that aspired to a life as a supplement to the majority. – Gunther Geltinger

Writing in a homosexual way means not only acknowledging my origin, education, and traditions, but also permanently questioning them. – Gunther Geltinger

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Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin

Saleem Haddad. Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm

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From the word ‘liwat/looti’ (used to refer to male homosexuals and which suggests the act of sodomy), to the female ‘sihaqah’ (which can be roughly translated to ‘grinder’), as well as the word ‘khanith/mukhannath’ (popular in the Gulf and drawing on memories of eunuchs), and finally the word ‘shaath’ (which means queer or deviant), there is no shortage of words to describe homosexual acts in Arabic, though none are positive. – Saleem Haddad

In fact, for many queer Arabs, frank discussions of sex often happen in English or French. Perhaps those languages offer a more comfortable distance, a protective barrier between an individual and their sexual practices. Arabic: serious, complex, and closely associated with the Quran, can sometimes appear too heavy, too loaded with social and cultural baggage. Perhaps this reason may explain why many Arab writers choose to write about their homosexuality in English or French, myself included. English provides us with a safe distance: from our communities, and perhaps in some way from ourselves. – Saleem Haddad

Over the last twenty years of LGBTQ activism in the Arab world, some activists have made a concerted, and somewhat successful, effort to re-appropriate and re-shape the language around queer identities. The word ‘mithli’, for example, which is derived from the translation of the phrase ‘homo’, and which reframes the language from a focus on same-sex practices towards describing same-sex identities, is now seen as a more respectful way to refer to gay and lesbian individuals. However, while the word mithli has caught on in media and intellectual circles, the word for ‘hetero’, ghayiriyi, remains unused—thereby rendering the heterosexual identity invisible, signifying it’s ordinariness, while in turn differentiating the ‘homosexual’ with their own unique word: mithli. Perhaps in recognition of this, some movements, in turn, have sought to move beyond the hetero/homo binaries altogether, by Arab-izing the word ‘queer’ into ‘kweerieh’. – Saleem Haddad

Reclaiming words and finding spaces for our identities in them allows us to take ownership over language. After all, what purpose does language serve if we are unable to modernise it, to mould it, shape it, and, ultimately, find a space for ourselves in its words? – Saleem Haddad

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Foto: Mandy Seidler, LCB

Foto: Mandy Seidler, LCB

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all my 2016 interviews on Queer Literature:

…and, in German:

Kuratoren & Experten am Literarischen Colloquium Berlin: 

Queer Literature: “Empfindlichkeiten” Festival 2016:

Queer Literature, 2016: Saleem Haddad

Saleem Haddad

Saleem Haddad

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Saleem Haddad is a novelist who’s both speaking and reading at the 2016 “Empfindlichkeiten” Literature Festival in Berlin. He was born in Kuwait City in 1983 and is currently living in London. He has a Lebanese-Palestinian father and an Iraqi-German mother.

Saleem’s debut novel “Guapa”  |  Saleem’s web site  |  Wikipedia  |  Twitter

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01_The most memorable moment of queerness you’ve encountered in your childhood:

Dressing up as a girl when I was six or seven and telling my brother he had to call me Maya.

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02_A queer book that influenced you (how?):

My book has been heavily influenced by queer writers: Colm Toibin, and the way he writes about mothers and their sons, Abdellah Taia’s writings on homosexuality and Morocco, James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room”, the way Christopher Isherwood wrote about Berlin in “Goodbye to Berlin”, the way Andre Aciman wrote so beautifully about desire in “Call Me By Your Name”, and the way Gore Vidal writes about gay alienation in early twentieth century America. So much of my novel owes itself to these works, so I’ve tried to echo and pay homage to these writers in my text.

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03_A different piece of queer culture (no book: something else) that influenced you:

The glam rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I first saw the film adaptation in college, and have seems nearly fifty times since. To me it defines the queer experience, and the power of love and self-acceptance. When I first sold my novel to my publishers in New York, my partner and I went to see Hedwig on Broadway. I felt I had finally come full circle in a way. It was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. I was also heavily influenced by Mashrou’ Leila, a Lebanese rock band that is unabashedly queer and political. Their music was the perfect soundtrack to my writing.

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04_A queer moment you’ve had in Berlin (or anywhere in Germany) that you’ll remember for a long time:

The first pride parade I ever attended was in Berlin in 2006. I was so terrified to be there, and yet so excited at the same time. The weather was so hot, everyone was shirtless, and it was both incredibly sexy and also empowering. So thank you Berlin!

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05_Is there a heterosexual ally that you like/value and who you’ve grateful for?

My brother is probably my biggest ally and supporter. He was one of the first people I came out to, and also helped me come out to the rest of my family. From the beginning he stood by me and supported me unconditionally.

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06_Is there another guest/author at „Empfindlichkeiten“ you’re particularly looking forward to?

I can’t get enough of Abdellah Taia, his writing is so raw, poetic and honest.

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07_Name a queer guilty pleasure you feel passionate about:

RuPaul’s Drag Race. It makes me want to put on a dress throw shade everywhere, and celebrate my queerness.

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08_What country/nation, what city, what region, what culture energizes you/teaches you new things about queerness/is big on your „queer map“?

I am inspired by the Middle East– my home. I love the sense of community, and I love how the queer movements there remain fiercely political, linking their struggles with broader struggles for justice and freedom.

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09_More and more often, people use intersectionality to discuss identity (and: discrimination). How is intersectionality important/relevant to your art/work?

Intersectionality is very important for me: living in Europe I sometimes feel just as queer for my Arabness as I do for my homosexuality. Exploring these different types of queerness is central to my work. I also think class does not get talked about enough, and as someone who read Gramsci and Marx in college, class is something that always comes through in my writings. I do wish the mainstream LGBT movements in the West increasingly linked their struggles to broader struggles around racism, class and Islamophobia.

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10_In mainstream culture, queerness increasingly gets some niches/some space. But then: does queer culture embrace mainstream, too? Does it embrace mainstream TOO MUCH – when it comes to questions of gender norms, family planning, „presentable“ people, consumerism, politics? Where do queerness and „normality“ crash? Do they crash/collide hard enough?

I believe that queerness by its very nature of being queer just stands outside of the mainstream. To paraphrase Foucault: to be critical of things is not to say everything is bad, but rather to say that everything is dangerous. By standing apart from the mainstream, queerness will always be a critical voice that tells us we always have something to do.

[Foucault, in 1983, said: ‘My point is not that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous, which is not exactly the same as bad. If everything is dangerous, then we always have something to do. So my position leads not to apathy but to hyper- and pessimistic – activism.’]

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all my 2016 interviews on Queer Literature:

…and, in German:

Kuratoren & Experten am Literarischen Colloquium Berlin: 

Queer Literature: “Empfindlichkeiten” Festival 2016:

Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl”: Everything you need to know.

dunham kind of girl

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I’m a fan of Lena Dunham’s “Girls” (Link), so I bought her 2014 memoir “Not That Kind of Girl” to review it for ZEIT Online. While reading the ebook, I marked some passages and live-tweeted them here (Link).

I didn’t enjoy the book, overall, because a lot of the essays seemed listless or haphazard. “Girls” has a lot of energy. Lena herself seems passionate and smart… but “Not That Kind of Girl” felt like a school assignment, a piece of homework. Not enough urgency. Not enough drive.

There are LOTS of tweet-sized gems in these 300 pages, though, and I want to collage them: Please go read 20 or 30 of these quotes. They encapsulate what’s great about Lena (witty! acerbic!). But they also show the bumpiness, flunkiness, hit-and-miss meandering of this book project:

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“Not That Kind of Girl”… told in 115 quotes:

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“I’ve been obsessed with death since I was born.”

“Until I was about twelve my grandmother was my best friend. […] I called her every day at 4:00 P.M.”

“I shared a bed with my sister, Grace, until I was seventeen years old.”

“my dad painted huge pictures of penises for a job”

“I was born here, and New York is so alien: she is in my gut like an old sickness”

“both my parents have therapists”

“none of the pants ever fit me, unless I head into the maternity section”

“My nickname in high school was Blow-Job Lena, but because I gave NO blow jobs!”

“I wanted memories so powerful they made you cry.”

“my Brazilian babysitter Flavia”

“my mother, who looks like her normal self when she dresses as a witch for Halloween.”

“we didn’t have to worry about much except what gallery to go to on Sunday…”

“The best news I ever could have received would have been that my parents had decided to homeschool me”

“I was a quitter: of play dates, of dance class, of Hebrew school.”

“I demanded a series of tuck-in rituals so elaborate that I’m shocked my parents never hit me (hard).”

“I was sure I had already broken my hymen in high school in pursuit of a cat that didn’t want to be rescued.”

“my parents discovered I had been stuffing all my unfinished homework under my bed for half the school year.”

“a successful seventh-grade year in which I had […] gotten my hair highlighted by a licensed beautician named Beata.”

“Everything I saw as a child, from 90210 to The Bridges of Madison Country, had led me to believe that sex was a cingey, warmly lit event”

“Angela Chase seemed pretty messed up by her experience at that flophouse where high school kids went to copulare.”

“I haven’t been to London since age 14, when I was angry my mother forced me to ride a Ferris wheel and even angrier because I liked it.”

“being in possession of a gay sister, I find the term ‘girl crush’ slightly homophobic.”

“I haven’t had a crush on a woman since, unless you count my confusing relationship with Shane from The L Word”

“I had no issue with gay people. I just didn’t want to be one. I was fourteen. I didn’t want to be anything yet.”

“I had been telling my parents, sister, grandma – anyone who would listen, really – about my desires from an early age.”

“I gained weight like it was a viable profession.”

“I don’t think I met a Republican until I was nineteen.”

“I went to my first Women’s Action Coalition meeting at age three.”

“Barbie’s disfigured. It’s fine to play with her just as long as you keep that in mind.”

“His arms were as muscly as a Ken doll’s but also as small.”

“I pull down my tights to pee, and he jams a few of his fingers inside me, like he’s trying to plug me up.”

“I was, once again, just a B- or even C-level member of the classroom ecology.”

“I wasn’t obese, but a senior did tell me I looked ‘like a bowling ball with a hat on.'”

“I’ll never be this young again. Or this lonely. Or this hairy.”

“While my veganism began as a deeply felt moral position, it soon morphed into a not-very-effective eating disorder.”

“we were finding our own New York, which looked a lot like the New York of our parents”

“at my new school, I was cool. […] I had a denim jacket and a novelty pin that said who lit the fuse on your tampon?”

“I wrote poems, sprawling epics with curse words and casual mentions of suicide that didn’t get me sent to the school psychologist.”

“my mother’s psychic Dmitri, who smelled of essential oils and walked around our house investigating ‘energies'”

“Waiting for my parents to get home because I’d lost my keys and pissing in someone’s potted plant.”

“This is what camp is all about! I thought. Meeting other, slightly different kinds of white girls!”

“I told him I went to school in Brooklyn and he said he didn’t know where that was because he wasn’t ‘so good at geometry'”

“even three mornings a week [at a child psychiatrist] isn’t enough to stop the terrible thoughts.”

“When I gave you a blow job (MY FIRST) on the day my cat died, you should have called.”

“Throughout the day I often ask myself, Could I fall asleep right now? and the answer is always a resounding yes.”

“Drunk emotions aren’t real emotions.”

“Later in the summer your grandfather dies, and you’re secretely glad. You have a place to put all your sorrow now”

“that syrupy terror that characterized summer nights as a nine-year-old sometimes lasts for days now”

“Every sexual encounter has felt like a first visit with a new general practioner. Awkward, burdensome, a little chilly.”

“the first person you give a blow job to. You won’t finish, just administer one horrified lick, and he won’t talk to you again”

“Only when I got to college did it dawn on me that maybe my upbringing hadn’t been very ‘real’.”

“Oberlin being a liberal haven where opposition was king, the coolest clique was a group of rugby-playing, neon-wearing lesbians.”

“I’m 20. […] I choose to wear a banana-printed belly shirt and pink leggings to the Vatican and religious tourists gawk and turn away.”

“The conversation at college is making me insane: politically correct posturing by people without real politics.”

“I am determined not to tell anyone I vomited. But sharing is my first instinct.”

“And there I am, drunk on a spring night, yanking my tampon out and hurling it into a bush outside the church.”

“I became the most combative girl in every writer’s workshop”

“I had been ambitious once. In college, all I seemed to do was found literary magazines with inexplicable names.”

“I wrote porn reviews (‘Anal Annie and the Willing Husbands’ is weird because the lead has a lisp).”

“I’ve never talked to anyone my own age abou anything beyond ambition. Technique, passion, philosophy, we don’t touch any of that.”

“he saw me for who I felt I was: achingly brilliant, misunderstood, full of novellas and poems and well-timed jokes.”

“We went to his neighbor’s funeral and sat on the back row and got the giggles, sprinted out.”

“I’m the kind of person who should probably date older guys, but I can’t deal with their balls.”

“I had ill-advised intercourse with a petite poet-mathematician who, afterward, removed the condom, placed it under his pillow, and wiped his penis clean on his own curtains.”

“He kissed me like it was a boring job given to him by his parole officer.”

“he looked at me a long moment, like he was preparing to eat something he wasn’t sure he would like.”

“Over time, my belief in many things has wavered: marriage, the afterlife, Woody Allen. But never motherhood.”

“college was a wonderful gig, thousands of hours to tend to yourself like a garden”

“Soon, my life as a student will be as far behind me as summer camp.”

“we fucked in the blue light of a documentary about police brutality. we didn’t speak for a year.”

“You used to own the night and put it to good use”

“Upon graduation I had felt a heavy sense of doom, a sense that nothing would ever be simple again.”

“I can’t find a goddamn fucking job and I’m too fat to be a stripper.”

“The story of children of the art world trying (and failing) to match their parents’ successes, unsure of their own passions, but sure they wanted glory”

“a haze of warm beer, Xanax bits, and poorly administered cocaine”

“He takes me on a day trip up the coast that should be romantic but feels like a hostage situation.”

“I boarded a Greyhound to Ithaca to see a college friend, the kind of purposeless trip you will never take again after age 25.”

“the 350 milligrams of medication I take every night”

“so much of what I love – gossip and furniture and food and the Internet”

“calling a cab in a haze of pills and getting home at 6 am only to realize you’ve left all your valuables at the home of a guy who doesn’t wake up until 2”

“my first postcollege job in a downtown restaurant…”

“What followed was two years of on-and-off ambigous sex hangouts […] often involving prescrition drugs from […] my parents’ oral surgeries.”

“If I was writing this then, I would have glamorized the whole story for you”

“I thought of myself as some kind of spy, undercover as a girl with low self-esteem, bringing back detailled intelligence reports…”

“I was dressed like a hooker dressed like an insurance broker.”

“I walked out into the street the next day bare legged and reeling, not sure whether I’d been ruined or awoken.”

“my e-mails were long and overwrought, trying to show him how dark my sense of humor was (I can make an incest joke!)”

“I still make joke after joke, but my tears are betraying me.”

“I broke up with him for a Puerto Rican named Joe with a tattoo that said mom in Comic Sans.”

“I bought my wallet while high off my ass on legal prescription drugs in the Hamburg airport.”

“Advil, Lexapro, Mucinex, Klonopin, and Tamiflu, for emotional security. If you have any spare pills, I will take those, too.”

“I worked at the baby store for nine months. Just recently graduated, I had stormed out of my restaurant job on a whim.”

“Once my boss yelled at me for giving Gwyneth Paltrow the wrong size in baby legging”

“going to Physique 57 class even though the women there are all engaged to be married and mean.”

“The time we took ecstasy and, right before it hit, he asked me what my thoughts on open relationships were.”

“If someone doesn’t answer your email within six hours, it means they hate you.”

“We went to a bar afterwards, and a DJ gave me his business card in a way that could have been sexual.”

“I Googled him and ‘rape’ autofills after his name.”

“I’ve always believed that it turns people on to get made fun of, and the art world was no exception”

“We took the videos we had made together off the Internet, embarrassed by the things we had once thought so profound.”

“And yes, it was broad, amateurish, a little vulgar.”

“My body was simply a tool to tell the story.”

“By the time I emerged from his home on Friday morning, we had essentially performed the first year of a relationship in 5 days.”

“And so I stayed, for five months, calling it growth.”

“Back in the city, I kissed him goodbye, then texted him a few minutes later ‘don’t come over later, or ever.’ We do what we can.”

“the time I sat with a director in his hotel suite while he told me girls love it when you ‘direct’ their blow jobs.”

“Women in Hollywood were treated like the paper thingies that protect glasses in hotel bathrooms – necessary but infinitely disposable.”

“I wasn’t going to be anyone’s protégée, pet, private fan club, or eager plus-one.”

“I loved that he’d never have to see a more successful person than himself at a party.”

“Later, we will find out that he was simultaneously courting an actress from The West Wing and that he bought her a cactus.”

“And I decided then that I will never be jealous. I will never be vengeful. I won’t be threatened by the old, or by the new.”

“You don’t need to be flamboyant in your life to be flamboyant in your work.”

“I hadn’t showered in four days and I still have a boyfriend last I checked.”

“The next morning he rolled toward me and not away. […] It was like a miracle.”

“You’ve learned a new rule and it’s simple: don’t put yourself in situations you’d like to run away from.”

“you ask your friend Jeminma one day as she’s painting you nude on her couch”

“I can’t wait to be eighty. So I can have an ‘oeuvre’ – or at least a ‘filmography’.”

“I’ll be eighty and, quite possibly, the owner of seventeen swans.”

“How could someone whose biggest health scare was a coffee-induced colon infection know what the end of life looks like?”

“Last summer my vagina started to sting.”

“My OCD isn’t completely gone, but maybe it never will be.”

“You’ll think, Stuff like this only happens to characters played by Jennifer Garner, right?”

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Underdog Literature, April 2013: 15 fresh or urgent, off-the-wall titles

Underdog Literature Apr 2013 WordPress.

Here are 15 books that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:

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01: RON CURRIE, jr.: “Flimsy little plastic Miracles”, 340 pages, February 2013.

02: HELEN GARNER, “Monkey Grip”, 245 pages, 1977. [Australia]

03: CHESTER HIMES, “If he hollers, let him go”, 224 pages, 1945. [Racism]

04: JULIE KIBLER, “Calling me Home”, 336 pages, 2012. [Romance / Mainstream]

05: DANA JOHNSON: “Elsewhere, California”, 304 pages, 2012.

06: KAREN BOYE, “Kallocain”, 224 pages, 1940. [Dystopia / SF]

07: JAKOV LIND, “Landscape in Concrete”, 190 pages, 1968.

08: LAWRENCE THORNTON, “Imagining Argentina”, 240 pages, 1987.

09: TYLER McMAHON, “How The Mistakes were made”, 352 pages, 2011. [Novel about a Courtney-Love-like punk / grunge singer.]

10: PETER NATHANIEL MALAE, “Our frail Blood”, 448 pages, February 2013.

11: MICHAEL KIMBALL, “Big Ray”, 192 pages, 2012.

12: STEVE ABEE, “Johnny Future”, 208 pages, 2009.

13: GOLDA FRIED, “Nellcott is my Darling”, 160 pages, 2001. [Young Adult; Toronto]

14: VIKKI WAKEFIELD, “Friday Brown”, 345 pages, 2012. [Young Adult]

15: FRANK DEFORD, “Alex. The Life of a Child”, 142 pages, 1983. [Biography / Death]

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Here are five books that made me curious enough to buy them:

01: SHUSAKO ENDO, “When I whistle” / “Eine Klinik in Tokyo”,  273 pages, 1979. [Japanese psychological novel about the war generation]

02: NATACHA APPANAH, “The Last Brother”, 165 pages, 2007.

03: ERLEND LOE, “Naive. Super”, 208 pages, 1996. [Finnish Young Adult Bestseller]

04: DEZSő KOSTOLÁNYI, “Skylark”, 222 pages, 1924. [Hungary]

05: IRENE SABATINI, “The Boy Next Door”, 416 pages, 2009. [Zimbabwe]

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…and finally, here are three books that I read – and that were really good:

5 of 5 stars: “Batwoman: Hydrology” (J.H. WILLIAMS III, W. HAYDEN BLACKMAN), 160 pages, 2012. The sequel, “To Drown the World”, is very good, too. If you want to start at the beginning – here’s a reading list I made for the character, from 2011.]

4 of 5 stars: TOBIAS WOLFF, “This Boy’s Life”, 304 pages, 1988. [Autobiography / Coming-of-Age]

4 of 5 stars: 05: SONALI DERANIYAGALA, “Wave”, 274 pages, March 2013. [Memoir about the 2004 tsunami]

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related Posts:

and:

Best Books of the Year: My personal Top 20

2012 Juli Frantje-Haus Selfpic.

(After a popular list last year [Link]…)

…here are the 20 very best books I’ve read in 2012:

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20: JASON SHIGA, “Bookhunter”, Graphic Novel, 2007.
Bookhunter

19: GAYLE FORMAN: “If I stay”, Young Adult Novel, 2009.
If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)

18: DAVID MARKSON: “The Last Novel”, (postmodern) Novel / Lists / Trivia Collection, 2007.
The Last Novel

17: SHARON M. DRAPER: “Out of my Mind”, Young Adult Novel, 2010.
Out of My Mind

16: OCTAVIA BUTLER: “Kindred”, (Fantasy) Novel, 1971.
Kindred

15: JOHAN HARSTAD: “Buzz Aldrin, what happened to you in all the Confusion?”, Novel (Norway), 2005.
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?

14: KRISTEN D. RANDLE: “The only Alien on the Planet”, Young Adult Novel, 1995.
The Only Alien on the Planet

13: DANIELA KRIEN: “Irgendwann werden wir uns alles erzählen”, Novel (German), 2011.
Irgendwann werden wir uns alles erzählen

12: TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: “A Streetcar named Desire”, Play, 1947. […alternative / runner-up: HENRIK IBSEN: “A Doll’s House”, Play (Norway), 1879.]
A Streetcar Named Desire and A Doll's House

11: ARNO GEIGER: “Der alte König in seinem Exil” (Austrian) Alzheimer Memoir, 2011.
Der alte König in seinem Exil

10: SARAH LEAVITT: “Tangles. A Story about Alzheimer’s, my Mother and me”, Graphic Novel, 2010.
Tangles : a story about Alzheimer's, my mother, and me

09: ARNE BELLSTORF: “Baby’s in Black”, Graphic Novel (German), 2010.
Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles in Hamburg

08: SCOTT SNYDER: “Batman: The Court of Owls”, Graphic Novel (and good start for new “Batman” readers):
Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls

07: STEWART O’NAN: “The Odds. A Love Story”, Novel, 2012.
The Odds: A Love Story

06: JOACHIM HELFER, RASHID al-DAIF: “Die Verschwulung der Welt”, Essay (German / Persian), 2006.
Die Verschwulung der Welt.

05: ALEXIS M. SMITH: “Glaciers”, Novel, 2012.
Glaciers

04: JOE HILL: “Locke & Key” series, Graphic Novels, 2008 to 2013.
Locke and Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft

03: MARLEN HAUSHOFER: “The Wall / Die Wand”, Austian novel, 1962.
Die Wand

02: GERBRAND BAKKER: “The Detour / Der Umweg”, Dutch novel, 2010.
Der Umweg

01: RUTH KLÜGER: “Still alive. A Holocaust Girlhood remembered”, Memoir / Essay, 1992.
Weiter leben. Eine Jugend.

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For a complete list of books I’ve read in 2012, please go here [Link].

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In comics, I’ve also enjoyed Guy Delisle’s travelogues / non-fiction graphic novels “Burma Chronicles” [Link], “Pyongyang” [Link] and “Jerusalem” [Link], the “New 52” DC comic books featuring “Wonder Woman” [Link], “Green Lantern” [Link], “Swamp Thing” [Link] and the “Birds of Prey” [Link] – and large parts of Naoki Urasawa’s “Pluto” [Link]

…and “Honey & Clover” [Link], a “Scott Pilgrim”-like, bittersweet / comedic coming-of-age manga series about five friends at an art school.

Here’s a collage of my notable graphic novel discoveries in 2012:

Wordpress Graphic Novels Best-of 2012.

Have a good 2013! More to come!

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Underdog Literature, August 2012: 15 fresh or forgotten, off-the-wall titles

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Here are 15 books that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:

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01: PETER HELLER, “The Dog Stars”, 336 pages, 2012.

02: RAFAEL YGLESIAS, “A happy Marriage”, 384 pages, 2009.

03: JONATHAN TROPPER, “One Last Thing before I go”, 336 pages, 2012.

04: JENNY LAWSON, “Let’s pretend this never happened”, 318 pages, 2012. [Comedy / Memoir]

05: LAURIE NOTARO, “I love everybody”, 240 pages, 2004. [Comedy / Memoir]

06: CAITLIN MORAN, “How to be a Woman”, 320 pages, 2011. [Comedy / Memoir / Feminism]

07: PETER DE VRIES, “The Blood of the Lamb”, 248 pages, 1963.

08: RUTH PICARDI, “Before I say Goodbye”, 128 pages, 1998. [Memoir]

09: DONALD RICHIE, “The Japan Journals: 1947 – 2004”, 510 pages, 2004. [Memoir]

10: KAMAL al-SOLAYLEE, “Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes”, 224 pages, 2012. [Memoir]

11: LAUREN GREENFIELD, “Thin”, 224 pages, 2006. [Photography / Nonfiction]

12: CARL NIXON, “Rocking Horse Road”, 234 pages, 2007. [Crime, New Zealand, German edition here.]

13: ÉDOUARD LEVÉ, “Suicide”, 123 pages, 2008. [Nonfiction / Memoir, German edition here.]

14: STEPHAN THOME, “Fliehkräfte”, 474 pages, 2012. [German]

15: KEVIN KUHN, “Hikikomori”, 240 pages, 2012. [German; Hildesheim / writing colleague of mine.]

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Here are five books that made me curious enough to buy them:

01: WILLY VLAUTIN, “The Motel Life”, 240 pages, 2006.

02: MARCUS JENSEN, “Oberland”, 506 pages, 2004. [German]

03: JEFF NOON, “Vurt”, 342 pages, 1993. [Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk]

04: INIO ASANO, “Solanin”, 424 pages, 2006. [Slice-of-Life Manga]

05: JOHN JEREMIAH SULLIVAN, “Pulphead”, 365 pages, 2011. [Essays / Cultural Criticism; German edition here.]

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…and finally, here are three books that I read – and that were really good:

4 of 5 stars: BRIAN SELZNICK, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”, 544 pages, 2007. [Illustrated Novel, for kids: If you’re older than 12, you might be bored. But it works really well for the target audience, and I enjoyed it.]

4 of 5 stars: FUNNY VAN MONEY, “This is Niedersachsen und nicht Las Vegas, Honey: Auf Tabledance-Tour durch die Republik”, 224 Seiten, 2012. [Nonfiction, German]

5 of 5 stars: JOACHIM HELFER, RASHID al-DAIF, “Die Verschwulung der Welt: Rede gegen Rede. Beirut – Berlin”, 199 pages, 2006. [Nonfiction, German]

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related Posts:

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Underdog Literature, March 2012: 15 fresh or overlooked, off-the-wall titles

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Here are 15 books that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:

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01: CLAIRE BIDWELL SMITH, “The Rules of Inheritance”, 298 pages, 2012.C

02: ISMET PRCIC, “Shards”, 400 pages, 2011.

03: JEFF MARTIN, “The late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books”, 165 pages, 2011.

04: GUY DELISLE, “Jerusalem”, 334 pages, 2011. [Graphic Novel; nonfiction]

05: LIZ MOORE, “Heft”, 352 pages, 2012.

06: EOWYN IVEY, “The Snow Child”, 389 pages, 2011.

07: AMY KROUSE ROSENTHAL, “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life”, 240 pages, 2005.

08: ERIC WALTERS, “Safe as Houses”, 160 pages, 2007. [Young Adult]

09: SHARON M. DRAPER, “Out of my Mind”, 295 pages, 2010. [Young Adult]

10: RYAN KNIGHTON, “C’mon Papa: Dispatches from a Dad in the Dark”, 272 pages, 2010. [Memoir]

11: ALISON BECHDEL, “Are you my Mother?”, 224 pages, 2012. [Graphic Novel / Memoir]

12: HAVEN KIMMEL, “She got off the Couch; and other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana”, 320 pages, 2005. [Humor]

13: JULIE ANNE PETERS, “Between Mom and Jo”, 240 pages, 2007. [Young Adult]

14: MILLEN BRAND, “The Outward Room”, 240 pages, 1937.

15: STEPHANIE COONTZ, “The Way we never were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap”, 432 pages, 1992.

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Here are five books that made me curious enough to buy them:

01: WOLFGANG HERRNDORF, “Tschick”, 253 pages, 2010 [Young Adult, German].

02: SARAH OCKLER, “Twenty Boy Summer”, 290 pages, 2009 [Young Adult].

03: PATRICK DeWITT, “The Sisters Brothers”, 352 pages, 2011.

04: ROHINTON MISTRY, “A Fine Balance”, 603 pages, 1995.

05: REBECCA SKLOOT, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, 370 pages, 2010.

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…and finally, here are three books that I read – and that were really good:

1: 5 of 5 stars: STEWART O’NAN, “The Odds”, 179 pages, 2012.

2: 4 of 5 stars: BRIAN FRANCIS, “Natural Order”, 384 pages, 2011.

3: 4 of 5 stars: OCTAVIA E. BUTLER, “Kindred”, 288 pages, 1983.

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related Posts:

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Underdog Literature, February 2012: 15 fresh or artsy, off-the-wall titles

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Here are 15 graphic novels that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:

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01: GREG RUCKA, “Stumptown”, 144 pages, 2011.

02: KEN DAHL, “Monsters”, 200 pages, 2009.

03: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, “Fortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book Story”, 136 pages, 2000.

04: ALEX ROBINSON, “Box Office Poison”, 602 pages, 2001.

05: YOSHIHIRO TATSUMI, “A Drifting Life”, 856 pages, 2009.

06: GIPI, “Notes for a War Story”, 128 pages, 2006.

07: SARAH LEAVITT, “Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer’s, my Mother and me”, 127 pages, 2010.

08: ANDERS NILSEN, “Don’t go where I can’t follow”, 244 pages, 2007.

09: EMMANUEL GUIBERT, “The Photographer”, 288 pages, 2003.

10: PAUL HORNSCHEMEIER, “Mother, come home”, 128 pages, 2003.

11: MANU LARCENET, “Ordinary Victories”, 128 pages, 2003.

12: FUMI YOSHINAGA, “Ooku: The Inner Chambers”, 216 pages, 2009.

13: PETER MILLIGAN, “Enigma”, 208 pages, 1995.

14: EROYN FRANKLIN, “Another glorious Day at the Nothing Factory”, 206 pages, 2009.

15: JONATHAN HICKMAN, “The Nightly News”, 154 pages, 2007.

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Here are three books that got great reviews, but left me disappointed:

01: AMIR; KHALIL, “Zahra’s Paradise”, 272 pages, 2011.

02: RAINA TELGEMEIER, “Smile”, 224 pages, 2009.

03: FUMIYO KOUNO, “Town of evening calm, country of cherry blossoms”, 104 pages, 2004.

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…and finally, here are seven books that I read – and that were really good:

1: 4 of 5 stars: JASON SHIGA, “Empire State: A Love Story (or not)”, 144 pages, 2011.

2: 4 of 5 stars: JASON SHIGA, “Bookhunter”, 144 pages, 2007.

3: 4 of 5 stars: JEFFREY BROWN, “Clumsy”, 224 pages, 2003.

4: 4 of 5 stars: JOE KELLY, “I kill Giants”, 184 pages, 2009.

5: 4 of 5 stars: PHILIP GELATT, “Petrograd”, 248 pages, 2011.

6: 4 of 5 stars: RANDALL MUNROE, “xkcd: Volume 0”, 120 pages, 2009..

7: 5 of 5 stars: FÁBIO MOON; GABRIEL BÁ, “Daytripper”, 256 pages, 2011. [best read of 2011, I’ve wrote about it here (German, Link)]

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related Posts:

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Underdog Literature, January 2012: 15 fresh or amazing, off-the-wall titles

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Here are 15 books that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:

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01: MATTHEW NORMAN, ‘Domestic Violets’, 352 pages, 2011.

02: PIERS BRENDON, “The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s”, 848 pages, 2000. [History]

03: JEANETTE WINTERSON, “Why be happy when you could be normal?”, 256 pages, 2011. [Memoir]

04: JORDAN ROSENFELD, “Make a Scene: Crafting a powerful Story one Scene at a Time”, 272 pages, 2007. [Creative Writing]

05: CAROLE MASO, “The Art Lover”, 176 pages, 1990.

06: JANE GARDAM, “Old Filth”, 289 pages, 2004.

07: BRIAN FARREY, ‘With or without you’, 368 pages, 2011. [Young Adult]

08: ANDREW SMITH, ‘Stick’, 292 pages, 2011. [Young Adult]

09: SUZETTE MAYR, ‘Monoceros’, 280 pages, 2011.

10: ALEXANDER MAKSIK, “You deserve nothing”, 323 pages, 2011.

11: CAROLINE PRESTON, “The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt”, 240 pages, 2011.

12: ANNA FUNDER, “All that I am”, 370 pages, 2011.

13: MICHAEL LESY, “Wisconsin Death Trip”, 261 pages, 1973. [Art / Photography.]

14: ALAN FLETCHER, “The Art of Looking Sideways”, 534 pages, 2001. [Art / Design / Neurology / Cultural Studies.]

15: EDEN ROBINSON, “Monkey Beach”, 384 pages, 1999.

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Here are five books that made me curious enough to buy them:

01: MARILYN FRENCH, “The Women’s Room”, 544 pages, 1977.

02: HANS FALLADA, “Wer einmal aus dem Blechnapf frißt”, [German pre-WW2 classic], 584 pages, 1934.

03: TUCKER SHAW, “Everything I ate: A Year in the History of my Mouth”, 496 pages, 2005.

04: NAOMI KLEIN, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”, 588 pages, 2007.

05: DOUGLAS KENNEDY, “The Pursuit of Happiness”, 656 pages, 2001.

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…and finally, here are three books that I read – and that were really good:

1: 4 of 5 stars: W.G. SEBALD, “Die Ausgewanderten” [US: “The Emigrants”], 354 pages, 1996.

2: 4 of 5 stars: JERRY SPINELLI, “Milkweed”, YA Holocaust Novel, 208 pages, 2003.

3: 4 of 5 stars: ELIZABETH McCRACKEN, “An exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination”, Memoir, 192 pages, 2008.

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related Posts:

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Underdog Literature, December 2011: 15 fresh or brilliant, off-the-wall titles

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Here are 15 books that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:

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01: WALTER ABISH, ‘How German is it? Wie Deutsch ist es?’, 252 pages, 1980.

02: ANNA FUNDER, ‘Stasiland: Stories from behind the Berlin Wall’, 304 pages, 2000. [Journalism from a young Australian author]

03: ELENA FERRANTE, ‘Days of Abandonment’ / ‘Tage des Verlassenwerdens’, 254 pages, 2002.

04: HEIMITO VON DODERER, ‘The Demons’ / ‘Die Dämonen’, 1340 pages, 1965. [Austrian]

05: CLARICE LISPECTOR, ‘Near to the wild Heart’, 192 pages, 1943. [existentialist, lyrical short novel by a 17-year-old Brazilian author.]

06: LAUREN BINET, ‘HHhH’, 374 pages, 2009.

07: JOY WILLIAMS, ‘The Changeling’, 256 pages, 1978.

08: ELIZABETH VON ARNIM, ‘The enchanted April’, 247 pages, 1922.

09: PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR, ‘A Time of Gifts’, 321 pages, 1977. [Travelogue]

10: WILLIAM GADDIS, ‘JR’, 752 pages, 1975.

11: ALBERT COHEN: ‘Her Lover’ / ‘Belle du Seigneur’, 992 pages, 1968.

12: MIKLÓS BANFFY, ‘They were counted’, 600 pages, 1934.

13: RUSSELL BANKS, ‘Affliction’, 368 pages, 1989.

14: RAY FAWKES, ‘One Soul’, 176 pages, 2011. [Comic]

15: UMBERTO ECO, ‘The Infitiny of Lists’ / ‘Die unendliche Liste’, 408 pages, 2009. [Cultural History]

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Here are five books that made me curious enough to buy them:

01: LAWRENCE DURRELL: ‘The Alexandria Quartet’, 884 pages, 1957.

02: FREDERICK REIKEN, ‘Day for Night’, 336 pages, 2010.

03: JANICE GALLOWAY, ‘The Trick is to keep breathing’, 236 pages, 1989.

04: MICHAEL A. FITZGERALD, ‘Radiant Days’, 256 pages, 2007.

05: VESTAL McINTYRE, ‘Lake Overturn’, 448 pages, 2009.

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…and finally, here are three books that I read – and that were really good:

1: 5 of 5 stars: EVAN S. CONNELL, ‘Mrs. Bridge’, 246 pages, 1959.

2: 4 of 5 stars: SARAH GLIDDEN, ‘How to understand Israel in 60 Days or less’, 208 pages, 2007 [Graphic Novel / Travelogue].

3: 4 of 5 stars: FRIGYES KARINTHI, ‘A Journey round my Skull’, 312 pages, 1938 [Essay / Autobiography].

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Interview: Ayelet Waldman – author of “Bad Mother” and HBO’s new “Hobgoblin”

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In 2010, when her essay collection “Bad Mother” (Link) was finally published in Germany, I had the opportunity to interview Ayelet Waldman for a big German weekly, Die ZEIT.

We spoke on the phone, for about 40 minutes, and before I translated and shortened the interview for the – much quicker / condensed – German version (Link), I did a lengthy transcript… colloquialisms, warts and all.

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Ayelet Waldman (Link: Wikipedia) was born in 1964. She studied law at Harvard University and lives in Berkeley with her husband, Pulitzer-winning author Michael Chabon (Link), and their four children. In the last decade, Ayelet Waldman has started to publish mysteries, literary fiction and personal essays – and she’s quickly growing into one of the most outspoken and relatable US intellectuals when it comes to questions of motherhood, domestic life and the conflicts of women in the professional sphere.

In 2011, Chabon and Waldman developed a new HBO drama, the supernatural period piece “Hobgoblin” (Link). During our phone conversation (in October of 2010), Waldman explained the development and pitching process and the early stages of script development.

Here’s our interview! Enjoy!

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Stefan Mesch: Thank you for having me! I’m nervous – this is my first transatlantic interview!

Ayelet Waldman: Don’t be nervous! I’m like a little machine: You just ask me a question, you turn me on and I will RUN!

Stefan Mesch: Awesome! So you are… an accomplished novelist and just published „Red Hook Road“ this summer, you’re an essayist, you’re a mom, you’re the wife of a Pulitzer-winning author – and you’re addressing all these issues: contemporary parenting, gender roles… How do you see yourself? What’s your place in life right now

Ayelet Waldman: It’s a funny question to ask because I think that in this stage of my life, my head has been down for so long… just looking down, working so hard – I haven’t lifted it up take a more macro look at what I’m doing. It’s more about getting from minute to minute, you know?

But I have been thinking lately that it is time to figure out the greater question of what I’m going to do professionally. When I try to imagine my career having an arc, I’m still figuring out what that arc is. Recently, I had agreed with my publisher to try a second book like ‘Bad Mother’, a kind of hybrid, essayistic form… but I found myself really resisting doing that and I found that I didn’t have anything that I wanted to say right now. I needed to take a minute to ask myself: ‘What do I want to do next?’

Not: ‘What is going to sell the most?’ Or: ‘What is likely to make me the most money?’ But: ‘What do I really want to do next?’ And there is a novel idea that I had been working on whenever I had the time. So – that’s what I realized that I actually want to do right now, and it’s what I’m doing: Embarking on another novel project.

I wrote the essays for ‘Bad Mother’ (Link) in the middle of ‘Red Hook Road’ (Link), but for this next novel, this will mean a couple of years of quiet. I probably won’t be writing articles! I still have a small public presence via Twitter (Link) and Facebook (Link) – but I think that after this coming election is over, I won’t be having a lot to say about politics.

Stefan Mesch: That’s sad – but I can see that…

Ayelet Waldman: I will write this next book; focus on that instead of having this kind of public persona. I’m also at the stage where my children are old enough that they don’t want me to write about them! They really don’t want me to write about motherhood! So I need to take a more quiet approach: My two oldest are teenagers and I don’t think they even like to hear my name in their house.

Stefan Mesch: So were there… repercussions in your family circle?

Ayelet Waldman: There weren’t really – but I think there would be if I kept writing the kinds of essays that I’ve been writing. If I kept going, I think there would be.

Stefan Mesch: What is making you worried, specifically?

Ayelet Waldman: It’s not so much about being worried. The children now have very independent identities. They are developing stories about their own lives, they’re creating their own narratives. My daughter is fifteen, and she’s entitled to express her feelings herself and not have to see it through the lense of her mother’s thoughts, her mother’s ideas, whether they’d be personal… psychological… or political.

Stefan Mesch: I can see that. And the prospect of another novel sounds great. Were you happy with [this summer’s family novel] ‘Red Hook Road’?

Ayelet Waldman: I was happy for about fifteen minutes, and that’s how it always is: There’s nothing as horrible as re-reading a book you’re already finished with, so every time I open it up all I see now is places that I could have trimmed! [‘Red Hook Road”s] boxing match? All I wanted to do is go back and cut out the repetetive moments of it – go back and trim and cut and re-write. But you know: I think that happens to every writer.

Red Hook Road“ was a huge step forward for me on a literary level and I worked on it harder than I’ve worked on any book before: I am really proud of that. The quality of my prose took a loop forward. Now, I’m writing on this new novel and I once wrote a book that I loved but that I ended up throwing away for all different sorts of reasons and I had promised myself that I would harvest bits and pieces of it in this new, different work.

I thought: ‘I have this perfect chapter in this book that I wrote (called ‘The Bloom Grows’) and I’m going to go and use that, change it a little bit and insert it here in the novel!“ Then I went and trimmed it out and I got it into the new novel… and I realized that the prose wasn’t good enough. It seemed clichéd, it seemed hackneyed, it seemed sort of… bulky, it didn’t flow well enough… you know, I wrote it probably seven years ago and it wasn’t good enough anymore!

Stefan Mesch: You could actually see your own progress?

Ayelet Waldman: Yeah – that is what keeps people going from book to book: The idea that you’re making progress, that you’re learning and you’re getting better.

Actually, I don’t remember how many years ago this happened, but it was before I wrote [my novel] ‘Love and other Impossible Pursuits’ [published in 2006, Link]:

I’ve always straddled this line between being a commercial writer and being a literary writer and I kind of wavered back and forth, and I was whining to my husband about that, and he said: „You know, your problem is that you don’t read like a writer, you read like a reader. You love to read and you grab a lot of books, but you need to make much more conscious decisions what you read and you need to read much more analytically. Once you do that, you’ll find that your prose gets better!“

Initially, I sort of tried to defend myself. But almost immediately, I realized that he was right and that I had been reading too voraciously and too quickly and just for the love of reading. Now I have a much more critical approach to a lot of my reading, and I think you see that in my writing, too: One of the reasons that my writing has gotten better is that my reading has gotten better. Although I still haven’t managed to make it through Proust, which may be a sign that there’s only so far I am going to go.

Stefan Mesch: I was impressed with „Red Hook Road“… so please continue whenever you’ll find the time! What about your timetable, though? Do you see yourself as a mom with a half-time job, or… what’s your… ‘identity’?

Ayelet Waldman: I don’t know – because whenever I’m not working, I feel like I’m procrastinating. But realistically, I’ll only write a few hours a day. Then, there’s all the other stuff that’s part of the job, like talking to you. So it IS very part-time in the sense that when I was a lawyer, I was working twelve-hour days. But it didn’t feel… you know – I’m probably a full-time a writer.

Because there are writers who claim that they write twelve hours a day, but the only one who really does is Joyce Carol Oates. Everyone else is lying! I certainly produce as much as some full-time writers. But it’s hard to think that when your job is kind of… amorphous and it kind of expands and contracts depending of where you are on your projects, it’s hard to think of yourself as „half-time“ or „full-time“.

I like to think of myself as part-time-everything: part-time writer… I certainly think of myself as a part-time mother because I’m always feeling so guilty that I’m not spending enough time with the kids and as a part-time writer because I’m always feeling guilty that I’m not spending enough time writing… and then there are these long parts of the day where I feel like all I’m doing is things on the internet.

If there wasn’t an internet, I’d be a full-time writer AND a full-time mother and I would do everything beautifully and with incredible focus: I blame the web for all my woes.

Stefan Mesch: When you were an attorney, you were working full-time, and then you switched to being a full-time mom, so basically, fifteen years ago, you still thought of yourself as someone who did things full-time. And then something happened. So… was it a growth process? Or did you just feel like you were falling apart? Was it a crisis? How did this switch happen?

Ayelet Waldman: You know, it had a lot to do with envy: I was working really, really hard and I would get these wonderful e-mails… no, wait, this was before the days of e-mail! I would get phone calls from Michael who would spend all this time with our daughter, playing. He was working at night, but his days were free; he would have these long, languid days and he joyfully put her into one outfit after another to take her photograph – they would spend hours doing that, you know? Taking pictures of the baby.

They would go for walks! They would go to bookstores and just have these lovely days with her that I was jealous of. I was jealous of him spending time with her, but I was also jealous of her because she got to spend all this time with him, and I had this idea that if I came home, we would be able to travel and we would all be together and it would be wonderful and it would be easy.

Working full-time and taking care… it’s exhausting to just do it all, and I had this idea that it would be easy and languid and marvelous. So when I quit, I had in the back of my had the idea that it was going to be short-term, and I couldn’t just walk away from one job, so what I did was I got a part-time job teaching at a law school. When I left my job as a public defender, I would still do SOMETHING – but that was very part-time, it was a single class and it was in the evening and it never… it felt like I was a full-time mom with just this little side thing, teaching law school.

I mean: It wasn’t a mistake. I don’t think it was a mistake to leave my job in the public defender’s office because I ended up writing and that has been a very satisfying carreer for me. But the mistake was thinking that I would ever be able to tolerate being a full-time mother. That was not me!

Stefan Mesch: Because you plunged into depression.

Ayelet Waldman: Yeah. I mean: Something about the monotony of suddenly not BEING someone, you know, not having an independent identity, I just thought it was boring – boring, boring, boring. And I became profoundly depressed. And you know, I taught for a year, and then we moved up to Berkeley and when we came here, I still had another very part-time teaching job, but then I really was a mother… for three years… with two kids, one in pre-school and one home full-time.

And the one who was home full-time was sort of a constant round-the-clock nurser, a VERY good baby, you know, but it really was a very difficult time in my life.

Stefan Mesch: Did you feel guilty that you didn’t enjoy it more? Did you KNOW that you were depressed, or did it really take time to acknowledge the fact that you’re not getting as much out of it as you thought you would?

Ayelet Waldman: I knew that I was depressed, certainly. But I also felt so much shame for not enjoying it… it was awful to not love every minute of it, but it was almost like I couldn’t convince myself. But then I still insisted on doing it because I not only felt that I had to do it, I had to like it. I felt like I was failing.

Stefan Mesch: And what was the turning point? Was there a moment when you stood up and said: „Okay – something needs to change!“?

Ayelet Waldman: I had begun to toy with the idea of writing while I was still teaching. I was writing a lot of legal protocol, and then I started to sort of flirt with the idea of writing this murder mystery. Initially, I had no expectation of being published. It just seemed like something I could be doing. And then I just worked away on that – not working very hard on it, just once a day, during nap time -, but after a couple of years of that (you know: babies sleep a lot!), I had a book.

And THAT was the turning point when I sent the book off to my husband’s agent and she accepted it and sold it and suddenly… it wasn’t like I was happy the next day, it took a lot of time for me to admit that I was writing, and that that was a carreer, too, and to treat that as a real thing, to value it, you know, a long time I was thinking that I was on maternity leave and not that I was acutally writing silly little murder mysteries (Link).

Stefan Mesch: Did you actually tell people around you or was it something that you did in private for a while before you told people that you were working on a manuscript?

Ayelet Waldman: I kept it a secret, I was terrible about that. It seemed so much like I was ‘the writer’s wife’, ‘working on her own little novel’, I felt like I had heard that story before and that it made me feel sorry for the woman: ‘Oh, really? Of COURSE she is! Isn’t that cute? Writing a book. Ooooh!’

I didn’t want to be that person. You know, I’d had this really independent identity, so that suddenly doing something that was so clearly in his shadow, I was emberrassed about it.

Stefan Mesch: Were you emberrassed in front of your husband, too? Did you have to ‘come out’ to him?

Ayelet Waldman: Yeah! You know, I had made a toast on our wedding. Michael’s first wife was a poet who had never been published, or very rarely, and that was part, I think, of what was wrong with their marriage, so on our wedding, I made this toast on how I’m never going to be a writer and I was always going to have health insurance for him and I was always going to support him and nobody had to worry about us… blah, blah, blah – and than, lo and behold, two years later, I said: „Oh, I’m writing a novel!“

I was horrible about that, so I kept it a secret for a long time. And then, when I gave it to him, I said: „Look. If this is garbage, I want to know. I don’t want to be working on something that is stupid, and I don’t want to be one of those idiots struggling with something they’re bad at, so tell me, tell me if it’s bad!“

And he said: „This is great. Keep going!“ And I wouldn’t hear it. I said: „No. Look: I don’t want to hear it’s great. Tell me the truth!“ And he just kept going „It’s great. Just keep writing!“ And finally, I listened to him and I kept going. And there it was.

Stefan Mesch: But you didn’t write when you were a teenager or when you were in law school?

Ayelet Waldman: No! You know, I was always very good at writing brief. My briefs were always very good briefs and my bosses did rely on me to write these pizzazz-y briefs. I never wrote the typical dry legal prose, I always wrote with a little bit of style because I knew that that’s what I like to read, so I wanted to give… I knew the judges, they were readers, too, and I knew that I could better convince them if your brief is worth the read. But did I ever write fiction or anything? No.

But you know? I was a criminal defense attorney: Much of my writing was telling the stories of my clients and trying to convince the judges to be lenient. And WHAT is that – if not fiction? „Your Honor, this guy is so wonderful – let me tell you about the ways that he is wonderful. Really. I promise! He’s not a bad guy!“

Link to the German version, ZEIT Online: Link

Stefan Mesch: What are you reading right now? Not as in „this very moment“, but you’ve said that you always need to read something to become a better reader.

Ayelet Waldman: I’m reading on three tracks right now. The first track is stuff that I’m reading very specifically for a novel that I’m writing, and that ranges from a lot of Hungarian history – part of the novel is set in Budapest in about 1900 -, so I keep reading and try to find Hungarian fiction which you can’t find a lot translated into English. And I’m expanding to stuff about Vienna in the earliest part of the 20th century, and that’s non-fiction, mostly, although I do still look for novels, too, because those give you a great sense of… you know, if you want to know what people are eating and wearing, it’s good to read fiction from that time period. So the struggle with the book is that so little Hungarian literature has been translated specifically from that period – so I’m reading that kind of stuff.

I am reading for a project that Michael and me are working on together, I’m reading about spycraft and magic…

Stefan Mesch: That sounds awesome – can you elaborate, please? The fanboys will go crazy…

Ayelet Waldman: I can’t say much about the project, but the last book I’ve read was called „Operation Mincemeat“ by Ben Macintire (Link) and it was about this deception perpetrated by MI6 on Hitler’s „Der Adler“ – they tried to convince them that the invasion of the mediterranian was going to come through Greece rather than through Sicily, so they created a very faboulous fake corps with fake letters and all that stuff… I’ve read that.

And then, I always read fiction that I think will inspire… fiction that feels like the novel I am working on. Not likely from the same period or anything like that, just writers who write with a kind of voice that feels right for what I’m doing, that feels like it can help me, so for example when I wrote „Red Hook Road“, I’ve read some Anne Tyler (Link), I’ve read some Elizabeth Strout (Link), I read a bunch of Alice Munro, read and re-read AND re-read Alice Munro (Link)… so for THIS book I’ve just re-read a book by an American writer named Julia Glass called „Three Junes“ (Link) because one of the things I am trying to do is three sections of the book that work independently but also work together, they’re all part of the same novel, but they have different characters. So I just re-read that to pick apart how she does it.

Also, I re-read some Ian McEwan (Link) because of the way he writes about period. „The Innocent“ (Link) is a book that takes place in post-war Berlin and I read the book because I wanted detail on post-imperial culture, I just wanted to take a look on how he dealt with period.

And I have been reading some Coetzee (Link) because there’s a kind of distance he has in his prose. There’s one book in particular, „Summertime“ (Link), that I’ve just read – especially about the way he draws you into the story, he’s so sparse and so precise.

I tend to have sort of a florid tendency and he’s a good antidote for that. There are writers whose work I enjoyed who, if I read them right now, would be really bad for me: If I read Nicole Krauss (Link) right now… she has this same kind of florid tendency that I have. And that wouldn’t work for me right now, so I can read and enjoy those books when I’m working on something else, but right now, I think that would be bad for me – I need writers that are much more strict. I’m always kind of imitating who I’m reading at the moment, and it’s good for me to imitate, so right now, I should do my best to do a pale approximation of Coetzee.

Stefan Mesch: Did this love for reading translate to all members of your family?

Ayelet Waldman: Wouldn’t that be nice? Actually, one of our children said „I hate reading. It’s SO boring!“, and my husband and I promptly just stabbed one another in the heart. No, a couple of them read: Our littlest is an avid reader, but what’s most exciting is that when he picks up a book, he gets sucked into it almost immediately; you can actually see it happening: his face is buried in the book and you can’t pry him out. That’s nice to see.

And our younger daughter, the one who’s dyslexic, also just loves, loves, loves to read, so THEY are readers, our older kids less so, although our [older] daughter, she’s very excited about books she likes, she reads a lot but she also listens to a lot of [radio shows] „This American Life“ and Sarah Vowell, David Rakoff (Link).

And she’s doing this amazing project with Dave Eggers – Dave Eggers has more energy than anyone on the planet. Every year he does this project with high school students where they publish a book. It’s called „Best American Nonrequired Reading“ (Link) and they read, the harvest all those short stories and essays and publications from around America and they put out a book, and she’s on that project this year. I don’t know how that man actually… he must not sleep. But she meets with him and this group once a week and she’s been reading fabulous stuff for that, and I think it’s turning her into an even more devoted reader.

Stefan Mesch: Does that mean she’s part of the editing process? She’s reading all these other peoples’ texts?

Ayelet Waldman: Exactly, and it’s giving her this great editorial eye, so that’s good for the future, I think – we can ALWAYS use more editors around here (laughs). And it’s so funny because they always have an opinion. I was pitching a TV series to ABC. I did a pitch at the dinner table, and my youngest one, at seven, he said: „Yeah. It’s missing some sha-whoa!“ And I said: „What?“ And he said: „No, it misses something – you need a little sha-whoa!“ And he was totally right, it WAS missing something. I’m not sure what sha-whoa is, but whatever sha-whoa is…. it was missing it.

Stefan Mesch: Is the project still in development? Are you still shopping it around?

Ayelet Waldman: This one died a sad and lonely death, as does most stuff in Hollywood, but I always have some iron in the fire. You know, in America, our lives are basically defined by our desperate need for health insurance, and writers don’t get health insurance and we don’t have any… you know, it’s a complete hysterical, panic-ridden struggle particularly in my family: we’re Jewish, devoted hypochondriacs, so we have all these illnesses real and imagined, so we’re ALL desperate for health insurance, and Hollywood is the only way that writers can get… that WE have found, so we can get insurance, so we always have something in the fire so I can go to my psychiatrist, so I can go to my gastroenterologist… do all those things that your basic neurotic jew must do.

Stefan Mesch: Good luck with these pitches! So… what’s the biggest misperception about motherhood? Do you feel like there’s some big, collective lie?

Ayelet Waldman: Yes – that it’s a constant joy, and that if you’re not full of joy, something is wrong with you. I think that’s the biggest lie. Or… you know what else? There are so many! Another lie is that it can only be done… that it MUST be done in a certain way and that our children do better if we hover over them and manage every moment of their existence, and I actually think that the real truth is that our children, what they need from us, is exactly the opposite, they need from us our inattention, they need to be on their own and they need to be bored and they need to learn to navigate the world, without the… this has been a terrible lesson for me to learn, but kids need to learn to navigate the world without my constant interference! And it’s hard for me to learn that.

You know, I still find myself… just the other day, my son was ill and I was e-mailing with his teacher about the make-up excam, asking when he was going to take it know, but then I thought „He’s thirteen! He can decide! He can find a date for his own damn make-up­-exam, he doesn’t need his mommy doing that for him!“ So I think that’s one of the biggest… I think we all need to learn to let go a little bit more. I mean – I don’t mean to say „Leave your toddler alone, while you go off…“, but…

Stefan Mesch: It’s about giving kids a free range.

Ayelet Waldman: You don’t have to go on every play-date! I don’t know if you have this phenomenom in Germany, the play-date…

Stefan Mesch: Yeah. We have.

Ayelet Waldman: So I can’t tell you how many time these mothers have come to my house and then I’ve suddenly realized ‘Wait a minute, this is… they’re STAYING! This is a play-date for all of us. I have to spend time with these… lovely women.’

I don’t want a play-date! I want to sit and read the New York Times. I don’t want to play with you! The children will be fine. They’re better off if we’re not playing with them.

Stefan Mesch: So who do you think has an interest to create this kind of image of the happy, fun-loving, easy-going mom? Where does that come from? Who gains by that public idea?

Ayelet Waldman: Who gains? I loved how you said „The happy, fun-loving, easy-going mom“ – wait! Where is she? I want to be her! I think that the current expectation that mothers are ever-present and entirely self-obligating is a curious phenomenom because JUST when women have entered the workforce in greatest numbers these past few decades, three things did happen simultaneously.

One: motherhood suddenly became this thing that you needed to do with all your focus and all your attention. See, my mother used to open the door and said „See you tonight“, but now, suddenly, motherhood demands this constant effort, you must attend the children’s playdates, you must bake the cookies, being a mom becomes this MUCH more demanding, rigulous enterprise… and at the same time, WORK has become this much more demanding, rigulous enterprise. So when I was a young girl and the train pulled into the station from New York City, while this was in suburban New York, all the daddies got off the train at 6.30 at night, you know? Now the train pulls into the station and nobody gets off that train at 6 or 6.30, people get off the train at 8 or 8.30 because work has suddenly expanded and a full-time job is no longer 40 hours a week, it’s much more demanding.

So three things have happened: Women have entered the workplace and SOMEHOW, coincidentally, the workplace has become much more demanding AND their expectations of their role as mothers have become much more demanding, so suddenly, it has become impossible to do both.

So if you’re a conspiracy theorist, you’ll say „Well, this is certainly the patriarchies’ way of defending it’s hegemony“, right? So now, you’re in a worse place because you might have managed it to work full-time in 1960 and be at home in 1960, but it isn’t. But then, I’m not necessarily a conspiracy theorist: So maybe the answer is just that this is what we have. There’s no point in whining about it. And what we need to do is do our best to change it. I think the most effective way to change both work and home is to demand male participation in the home life because as soon as men realize there are – and I think European men are way ahead of American men in this thing, they are actually spending more time at home and going on paternity leave and all that – but as soon as they realize the rewards and the challenges of being intimately involved in the domestic sphere, they will demand changes in the public sphere that are necessary.

So I have my hope that that will happen. I used to think my job was to raise strong-willed women who will demand that their husbands – if they are heterosexual – can grasp the domestic responsibilities, but now I realize that the much more important job is to raise men who expect to do that, too – as opposed to see this role as a woman’s role.

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After a 40-minute conversation, our interview ended: Ms. Waldman had to get burritos for the ‘burrito day’ at her son’s school. To finish up, we had a short final exchange by e-mail:

Stefan Mesch: When you wrote “Bad Mother”, did you ever feel like you were over-sharing or outside of your comfort zone? How did you feel about breaching the ‘taboo’ that still surrounds a lot of domestic problems by adressing your loved ones’ more personal issues?

Ayelet Waldman: The things that felt like oversharing got edited out! Actually, it’s always funny to me that I’m accused of oversharing. There’s so much people don’t know. And there are so many things I’d simply never say. For example, I don’t think there’s a single time where I’ve ever written about an argument my husband and I have had. Now, obviously, we argue. All couples do. But the nitty gritty of those arguments? That’s not something I’d ever share.

Stefan Mesch: In „Manhood for Amateurs“ (Link), your husband writes about a lot of the same issues – but he makes it sound a little more… whimsical and easy going. Childhood is an adventure, fatherhood is a blessing… does he have a different outlook – or is he in a better place than you?

Ayelet Waldman: Funny. It comes down, I think, to the fact that fatherhood is simply less fraught than motherhood. To receive accolades for being a good father it’s enough, quite simply, to show up. Anything more and you’re a paragon of virtue.

Stefan Mesch: There is a „culture of confession“, with memoirs, talk shows, blogging… but still, your book got so much attention and seems like a rather singular concept: Is there STILL a void that needs to be filled? Is there STILL a need for more *personal* accounts of these kind of first-world struggles?

Ayelet Waldman: Let’s hope so! I’ve got four children to send to college. In all seriousness, I enjoy reading nonfiction and essays that speak to my own experience, and I enjoy reading essays and nonfiction that illuminate the experiences of others. I think that will always be true.

Stefan Mesch: One theme of your writing are control issues and the influence other people’s expectations have on people’s decisions. „Red Hook Road“’s Iris is a very micromanaging mom who wants to shoulder ALL the problems of her family. Do you find these urges inside yourself? Or is it more like some kind of… cautionary tale about helicopter parents?

Ayelet Waldman: Absolutely. Iris is in some ways my worst self. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that she’s the self I’m most afraid of being.

Stefan Mesch: Thank you so much! This was one of the nicest interviews I’ve ever had. Please let me know if I can get you some iTunes or Amazon gift card-thingy: You’ve went out of your way – and I’d like to say thanks!

Ayelet Waldman: OF COURSE NOT. It was an absolute pleasure.

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“Bad Mother” at Amazon: Link

“Red Hook Road” at Amazon: Link

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Related Links: Interviews (English)

  • Interview: Sally Pascale – feminist, suburban mother… and the world’s most passionate ‘Green Lantern’ fan (English, Link)
  • Interview: CEB, author of Collected Editions (English, Link)

Interviews, German:

Underdog Literature, November 2011: 15 fresh or impressive, off-the-wall titles

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Here are 15 books that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:

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01: MAGDA SZABÓ, ‘The Door’, 272 pages, 1987 [Hungarian].

02: A.S. KING, ‘Everybody sees the Ants’, 288 pages, 2011. [Young Adult]

03: JOAN DIDION, ‘Blue Nights’, 208 pages, 2011. [Essay]

04: JOHN B. THOMPSON, ‘Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the 21st Century’, 440 pages, 2010. [Cultural Studies / Nonfiction]

05: BRIAN BOYD, ‘Stalking Nabkov’, 488 Pages, 2011. [Essays / Literary Criticism]

06: ALAN HOLLINGHURST, ‘The Stranger’s Child’, 564 pages, 2011.

07: ELIZABETH McCRACKEN, ‘An exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination’, 192 pages, 2008. [Memoir]

08: EVAN S. CONNELL, ‘Mrs. Bridge’, 246 pages, 1959.

09: DOROTHY BAKER, ‘Cassandra at the Wedding’, 256 pages, 1962.

10: DAWN POWELL, ‘The wicked Pavillon’, 281 pages, 1990.

11: FERNANDO PESSOA: ‘The Book of Disquiet’ / ‘Das Buch der Unruhe’, 544 pages, 1982.

12: MAGGIE NELSON, ‘Bluets’, 99 pages, 2009. [Experimental Short Fiction / Memoir]

13: HELEN DeWITT, ‘The Last Samurai’, 530 pages, 2000.

14: KATE BEATON, ‘Hark! A Vagrant’, 160 pages, 2011. [Webcomic]

15: YUMI UNITA, ‘Bunny Drop’, 192 pages, 2005. [Josei Manga Series / Domestic Fiction]

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Here are five books that made me curious enough to buy them:

01: E.. WHITE, ‘Charlotte’s Web’, 184 pages, 1952. [Children’s Book – it’s little-known in Germany, and I still don’t even know the details of the plot. High time!]

02: BRIAN SELZNICK, ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’, 533 pages, 2007. [Steampunk / Fantasy / Young Adult]

03: SIBYLLE BERG, ‘Der Mann schläft’, 309 pages, 2009. [German]

04: MICHAEL KÖHLMEIER, ‘Abendland’, 794 pages, 2007. [German. I’ve read the first 50 pages, and have an excellent feeling so far.]

05: SEBASTIAN CHRIST, ‘Das Knurren der Panzer im Frühling. Ein Kriegsbericht aus Afghanistan’, 224 pages, 2011 [German, Reportage] Update: I’ve read it – and it’s pretty good: 4 of 5 stars. And – strangely enough – a great companion to Greg Rucka’s Afghanistan thriller ‘A Gentleman’s Game’, 2004)

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…and finally, here are three books that I read – and that were really good:

1: 4 of 5 stars: JULIE ORRINGER, ‘The invisible Bridge’, 602 pages, 2010.

2: 4 of 5 stars: SUSAN J. DOUGLAS, ‘Where the Girls are: Growing up Female with Mass Media’, 349 pages, 1995 [Cultural Studies / Feminism]

3: 4 of 5 stars: A.S. KING, ‘Please ignore Vera Dietz’, 336 pages, 2010 [Young Adult].

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related Posts:

and:

gute Romane, große Literatur: Entdeckungen! (Stefan Mesch)

[in English: Here’s a list of 250 novels and nonfiction books… that I have not read yet, but have *very* high hopes in.]

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“Was sind die besten – deutschsprachigen und internationalen – Bücher?”

“Welchen Romanen wünscht du möglichst viele Leser?”

Für BELLA triste – Zeitschrift für junge deutschsprachige Literatur (Link) erstellte ich im Herbst 2011 eine Liste mit den 250 besten Büchern (von ca. 1600), die ich gelesen habe.

Romane und Sachbücher. Deutsche und internationale Titel.

Link zu diesen 250 Empfehlungen: hier.

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Spannender und offener aber ist die folgende, *zweite* Liste:

Bücher, die ich noch nicht kenne. Doch die mir – in der Presse, in Netzwerken, von Freunden oder beim Störbern – sehr positiv aufgefallen sind.

250… Hoffnungsträger, gesammelt im September 2011.

(und seitdem regelmäßig aktualisiert).

Viel Spaß!

[Ein knappes Drittel der Links sind falsch formatiert: Ich merkte das erst jetzt – nach drei (!) Stunden Link-Setzen… und bin zu müde, es sofort zu korrigieren. Entschuldigt!]

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Entdeckungen und Hoffnungsträger… …noch nicht gelesen:
Lermontov, Mikhail Ein Held unserer Zeit 1840
Turgenev, Ivan Tagebuch eines überflüssigen Menschen 1850
Collins, Wilkie The Woman in White 1859
Dickens, Charles Our mutual Friend 1865
Gaskell, Elizabeth Wives and Daughters 1866
Joris-Karl Huysmans Gegen den Strich 1884
Zola, Émile Germinal 1885
de Maupassant, Guy Die Erbschaft 1887
Hamsun, Knut Hunger 1890
Perkins Gilman, Charlotte The Yellow Wall-Paper 1892
Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk 1903
Wharton, Edith The House of Mirth 1905
Burnett, Frances Hodgson The Secret Garden 1911
Soseki, Natsume Kokoro 1914
Babel, Isaac Die Reiterarmee 1919
Zamyatin, Yevgeny Wir 1920
Undset, Sigrid Kristin Lavranstochter 1920
von Arnim, Elizabeth The enchanted April 1922
Woolf, Virginia A Room of one’s own 1928
Rilke, Rainer Maria Briefe an einen jungen Dichter 1929
Remarque, Erich Maria Der Weg zurück 1931
Orwell, George A Collection of Essay 1931
Woolf, Virginia The Waves 1931
Kästner, Erich Fabian 1931
Faulkner, William Light in August 1932
Céline, Louis-Ferdinand Reise ans Ende der Nacht 1932
Orwell, George Down and out in Paris and London 1933
Musil, Robert Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften 1933
Tanizaki, Junichiro Lob des Schattens 1934
Fallada, Hans Wer einmal aus dem Blechnapf frißt 1934
Halldór Laxness Sein eigener Herr 1935
du Maurier, Daphne Rebecca 1938
Wodehouse, P.G. The Code of the Woosters 1938
Fante, John Ask the Dust 1939
Wolfe, Thomas The Web and the Rock 1939
Rhys, Jean Good Morning, Midnight 1939
Wright, Richard Native Son 1940
Greene, Graham The Power and the Glory 1940
McCullers, Carson The Heart is a lonely Hunter 1940
Agee, Edward & Evans, Walker Let us now praise famous Men 1941
Hamilton, Patrick Hangover Square 1941
Mann, Klaus Der Wendepunkt 1942
Smith, Betty A Tree grows in Brooklyn 1943
Ivo Andrić Die Brücke über die Drina 1943
Maugham, W. Somerset The Razor’s Edge 1943
Bunin, Iwan Dunkle Alleen 1943
Zweig, Stefan Die Welt von gestern: Erinnerungen eines Europäers 1943
Waugh, Evelyn Brideshead Revisited 1945
Frankl, Viktor Emil Man’s Search for Meaning 1946
Fallada, Hans Jeder stirbt für sich allein 1947
Tanizaki, Junichiro The Makiota Sisters 1948
Borges, Jorge Luis Das Aleph 1949
Bellow, Saul The Adventures of Augie March 1949
Algren, Nelson The Man with the golden Arm 1949
Jones, James From here to Eternity 1950
Greene, Graham The End of the Affair 1951
von Doderer, Heimito Die Strudlhofstiege 1951
Pym, Barbara Excellent Women 1952
Ginzburg, Natalia Alle unsere Gestern 1952
Chandler, Raymond The long Goodbye 1953
Frisch, Max Stiller 1954
Kawabata, Yasunari Ein Kirschbaum im Winter 1954
Moravia, Alberto Verachtung 1954
Hillers, Marta Eine Frau in Berlin 1954
Salinger, J.D. Franny and Zooey 1955
Greene, Graham The quiet American 1955
Bowles, Paul Spider’s House 1955
Johnson, Crockett Harold and the purple Crayon 1955
Barthes, Roland Mythen des Alltags 1957
Durrell, Lawrence Justine 1957
Helprin, Mark Winter’s Tale 1959
Wiesel, Elie Night and Day 1960
Heller, Joseph Catch-22 1961
Fanon, Frantz Die Verdammten dieser Erde 1961
Borges, Jorge Luis Im Labyrinth 1962
Jackson, Shirley We have always lived in the Castle 1962
McLuhan, Marshall The Gutenberg Galaxy 1962
Haushofer, Marlen Die Wand 1962
Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim The Guns of August 1962
Baldwin, James The Fire Next Time 1963
Cortázar, Julio Rayuela. Himmel und Hölle. 1963
Vonnegut, Kurt Cat’s Cradle 1963
Kesey, Ken Sometimes a great Notion 1963
Böll, Heinrich Ansichten eines Clowns 1963
Simmel, Johannes Mario Liebe ist nur ein Wort 1963
Fowles, John The Magus 1965
von Doderer, Heimito Die Dämonen 1965
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Krebsstation 1967
McLuhan, Marshall The Medium is the Message 1967
Lenz, Siegfried Deutschstunde 1968
Angelou, Maya I know why the caged Bird sings 1968
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Im ersten Kreis 1968
Salih, Tayeb Zeit der Nordwanderung 1969
Puzo, Mario The Godfather 1969
Llosa, Mario Vargas Gespräch in der Kathedrale 1969
Hanff, Helene 84, Charing Cross Road 1970
Talese, Gay Fame and Obscurity 1970
Brautigan, Richard Die Abtreibung 1971
Stegner, Wallace Angle of Repose 1971
O’Connor, Flannery The Complete Stories 1971
Doctorow, E.L. The Book of Daniel 1971
Strugatsky, Boris und Arkady Picknick am Wegesrand 1972
Oz, Amos Ein anderer Ort 1973
Vonnegut, Kurt Breakfast of Champions 1973
Levi, Primo Das Periodische System 1975
Ballard, J.G. High-Rise 1975
Kertész, Imre Roman eines Schicksallosen 1975
Gaddis, William JR 1975
Foucault, Michel Überwachen und Strafen: Die Geburt des Gefängnis’ 1975
Cather, Willa Neighbour Rosicky 1976
Wolf, Christa Kindheitsmuster 1977
Eisner, Will A Contract With God 1978
Perec, Georges Das Leben. Gebrauchsanweisung. 1978
Broch, Hermann Der Schlafwandler 1978
Butler, Octavia E. Kindred 1979
Styron, William Sophie’s Choice 1979
Didion, Joan The White Album 1979
Wolf, Christa Kein Ort. Nirgends. 1979
Bernhard, Thomas Korrektur. 1979
Handke, Peter Langsame Heimkehr 1979
Hofstadter, Douglas Gödel, Escher, Bach 1979
Coetzee, J.M. Warten auf die Barbaren 1980
Robinson, Marilynne Housekeeping 1980
Sims, Dave Cerebus 1981
Crowley, John Little, Big 1981
Allende, Isabel Das Geisterhaus 1982
Pessoa, Fernando Das Buch der Unruhe 1982
Zypkin, Leonid Ein Sommer in Baden-Baden 1984
Bowles, Paul Their Heads are green and their Hands are blue 1984
Vidal, Gore Lincoln 1984
Bernhard, Thomas Holzfällen 1984
Card, Orson Scott Ender’s Game 1985
McCarthy, Cormac Blood Meridian 1985
McMurty, Larry Lonesome Dove 1985
Duras, Marguerite Der Schmerz 1985
Carver, Raymond Cathedral 1987
Walser, Martin Brandung 1987
Shilts, Randy And the Band played on 1987
Dangarembga, Tsitsi Nervous Conditions 1988
Moore, Alan V for Vendetta 1988
Ruff, Matt Fool on the Hill 1988
Chomsky, Noam Manufacturing Consent 1988
Grossman, Vasily Leben und Schicksal 1989
Courtenay, Bryce The Power of One 1989
Wolff, Tobias This Boy’s Life 1989
Irving, John A Prayer for Owen Meany 1989
O’Brien, Tim The Things they carried 1990
Kundera, Milan Die Unsterblichkeit 1990
Roth, Henry Mercy of a rude Stream 1990
Dyer, Geoff The Colour of Memory 1990
Simon, David Homicide 1991
Johnson, Denis Jesus’ Son 1992
Price, Richard Clockers 1992
Barker, Clive The Thief of Always 1992
Mitchell, Joseph Up the old Hotel 1992
Terkel, Studs Race 1992
Kapuscinski, Ryszard Imperium 1993
Tsukiyama, Gail The Samurai’s Garden 1994
Saramago, José Die Stadt der Blinden 1995
Ellroy, James American Tabloid 1995
Martin, George R.R. A Game of Thrones 1996
Diamant, Anita The Red Tent 1997
Roth, Philip American Pastoral 1997
Fry, Stephen Moab is my Washpot 1997
Lamb, Wally I know this much is true 1998
Kapuscinski, Ryszard Afrikanisches Fieber 1998
Gourevitch, Philip We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with your Families 1998
Mitchell, David Ghostwritten 1999
Lethem, Jonathan Motherless Brooklyn 1999
Sister Souljah The coldest Winter ever 1999
Osang, Alexander Die Nachrichten 2000
Sacco, Joe Safe Area Gorazde 2000
Bolano, Roberto 2666 2000
O’Neill, Jamie At Swim, two Boys 2000
Berry, Wendell Jayber Crow 2000
Marías, Javier Dein Gesicht morgen 2001
Bartis, Attila Die Ruhe 2001
Barry, Lynda One Hundred Demons 2002
Boyd, William Any Human Heart 2002
Powers, Richard The Time of our Singing 2002
Hornschemeier, Paul Mother, Come Home 2003
Kirkman, Robert Invincible 2003
Hernandez, Gilbert Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories 2003
Záfon, Carlos Ruiz Der Schatten des Windes 2003
Atwood, Margaret Oryx and Crake 2003
Hale, Shannon The Goose Girl 2003
Brennert, Alan Moloka’i 2003
Ruff, Matt Set this House in Order 2003
Müller, Herta Der König verneigt sich und tötet 2003
Zarev, Vladimir Zerfall 2003
Schrott, Raoul Tristan da Cunha 2003
Gruenter, Undine Der verschlossene Garten 2004
Levithan, David The Realm of Possibility 2004
Özdogan, Selim Die Tochter des Schmieds 2005
Wallace, David Foster Consider the Lobster 2005
Nace, Don Drawn Out 2005
Dath, Dietmar Für immer in Honig 2005
Meyer, Clemens Als wir träumten 2006
Eggers, Dave What is the What 2006
Rabagliati, Michel Paul Goes Fishing 2006
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi Die Hälfte der Sonne 2006
Brooks, Max World War Z 2006
Pynchon, Thomas Against the Day 2006
Peace, David The damned Utd 2006
Rinck, Monika Ah, das Love-Ding! 2006
Kleeberg, Michael Karlmann 2007
Nilsen, Anders Don’t go where I can’t follow 2007
Klein, Naomi The Shock Doctrine 2007
Bolano, Roberto Lumpenroman 2007
Rothfuss, Patrick The Name of the Wind 2007
Selznick, Hugo The Invention of Hugo Cabret 2007
Hill, Lawrence The Book of Negroes 2007
Köhlmeier, Michael Abendland 2007
Oksanen, Sofi Fegefeuer 2007
Benioff, David City of Thieves 2008
Ness, Patrick The Knife of never letting go 2008
Baker, Nicholson Human Smoke 2008
Harkaway, Nick The gone-away World 2008
Alameddine, Rabih The Hakawati 2008
Goetz, Rainald Klage 2008
Bachmann, Ingeborg; Celan, Paul Herrzeit: Briefwechsel 2008
Tellkamp, Uwe Der Turm 2008
Berg, Sibylle Der Mann schläft 2009
Tatsumi, Yoshihiro A Drifting Life 2009
Atwood, Margaret The Year of the Flood 2009
Verghese, Abraham Cutting for Stone 2009
Davis, Lydia The Collected Stories 2009
Marlantes, Karl Matterhorn 2009
Mora, Terézia Der einzige Mann auf dem Kontinent 2009
Fforde, Jasper Shades of Grey 2009
Demick, Barbara Nothing to envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea 2009
Wertz, Julia Drinking at the Movies 2010
Leavitt, Sarah Tangles 2010
Skloot, Rebecca The immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 2010
Orringer, Julie The invisible Bridge 2010
Stevens, Chevy Still Missing 2010
Zander, Judith Dinge, die wir heute sagten 2010
Herrndorf, Wolfgang Tschick 2010
Klein, Georg Roman unserer Kindheit 2010
Meyer, Clemens Gewalten 2010
Sandig, Ulrike Almut Flamingos 2010
Schmidt, Gary D. Okay for now 2011
Hens, Gregor Nikotin 2011
Barnes, Julian The Sense of an Ending 2011
Cline, Ernest Ready Player One 2011
Geiger, Arno Der alte König in seinem Exil 2011
Towles, Amor Rules of Civility 2011
Rosenfeld, Astrid Adams Erbe 2011
Randt, Leif Schimmernder Dunst über CobyCounty 2011
Brandt, Jan Gegen die Welt 2011
Mansfield, Catherine The Collected Stories 1911-1924

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nach Autorennamen sortiert:

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi Die Hälfte der Sonne 2006
Agee, Edward & Evans, Walker Let us now praise famous Men 1941
Alameddine, Rabih The Hakawati 2008
Algren, Nelson The Man with the golden Arm 1949
Allende, Isabel Das Geisterhaus 1982
Angelou, Maya I know why the caged Bird sings 1968
Atwood, Margaret Oryx and Crake 2003
Atwood, Margaret The Year of the Flood 2009
Babel, Isaac Die Reiterarmee 1919
Bachmann, Ingeborg; Celan, Paul Herrzeit: Briefwechsel 2008
Baker, Nicholson Human Smoke 2008
Baldwin, James The Fire Next Time 1963
Ballard, J.G. High-Rise 1975
Barker, Clive The Thief of Always 1992
Barnes, Julian The Sense of an Ending 2011
Barry, Lynda One Hundred Demons 2002
Barthes, Roland Mythen des Alltags 1957
Bartis, Attila Die Ruhe 2001
Bellow, Saul The Adventures of Augie March 1949
Benioff, David City of Thieves 2008
Berg, Sibylle Der Mann schläft 2009
Bernhard, Thomas Korrektur. 1979
Bernhard, Thomas Holzfällen 1984
Berry, Wendell Jayber Crow 2000
Bolagno, Roberto 2666 2000
Bolagno, Roberto Lumpenroman 2007
Böll, Heinrich Ansichten eines Clowns 1963
Borges, Jorge Luis Das Aleph 1949
Borges, Jorge Luis Im Labyrinth 1962
Bowles, Paul Spider’s House 1955
Bowles, Paul Their Heads are green and their Hands are blue 1984
Boyd, William Any Human Heart 2002
Brandt, Jan Gegen die Welt 2011
Brautigan, Richard Die Abtreibung 1971
Brennert, Alan Moloka’i 2003
Broch, Hermann Der Schlafwandler 1978
Brooks, Max World War Z 2006
Bunin, Iwan Dunkle Alleen 1943
Burnett, Frances Hodgson The Secret Garden 1911
Butler, Octavia E. Kindred 1979
Card, Orson Scott Ender’s Game 1985
Carver, Raymond Cathedral 1987
Cather, Willa Neighbour Rosicky 1976
Céline, Louis-Ferdinand Reise ans Ende der Nacht 1932
Chandler, Raymond The long Goodbye 1953
Chomsky, Noam Manufacturing Consent 1988
Cline, Ernest Ready Player One 2011
Coetzee, J.M. Warten auf die Barbaren 1980
Collins, Wilkie The Woman in White 1859
Cortázar, Julio Rayuela. Himmel und Hölle. 1963
Courtenay, Bryce The Power of One 1989
Crowley, John Little, Big 1981
Dangarembga, Tsitsi Nervous Conditions 1988
Dath, Dietmar Für immer in Honig 2005
Davis, Lydia The Collected Stories 2009
de Maupassant, Guy Die Erbschaft 1887
Demick, Barbara Nothing to envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea 2009
Diamant, Anita The Red Tent 1997
Dickens, Charles Our mutual Friend 1865
Didion, Joan The White Album 1979
Doctorow, E.L. The Book of Daniel 1971
Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folks 1903
du Maurier, Daphne Rebecca 1938
Duras, Maruerite Der Schmerz 1985
Durrell, Lawrence Justine 1957
Dyer, Geoff The Colour of Memory 1990
Eggers, Dave What is the What 2006
Eisner, Will A Contract With God 1978
Ellroy, James American Tabloid 1995
Fallada, Hans Wer einmal aus dem Blechnapf frißt 1934
Fallada, Hans Jeder stirbt für sich allein 1947
Fanon, Frantz Die Verdammten dieser Erde 1961
Fante, John Ask the Dust 1939
Faulkner, William Light in August 1932
Fforde, Jasper Shades of Grey 2009
Foucault, Michel Überwachen und Strafen: Die Geburt des Gefängnis’ 1975
Fowles, John The Magus 1965
Frankl, Viktor Emil Man’s Search for Meaning 1946
Frisch, Max Stiller 1954
Fry, Stephen Moab is my Washpot 1997
Gaddis, William JR 1975
Gaskell, Elizabeth Wives and Daughters 1866
Geiger, Arno Der alte König in seinem Exil 2011
Ginzburg, Natalia Alle unsere Gestern 1952
Goetz, Rainald Klage 2008
Gourevitch, Philip We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our Families 1998
Greene, Graham The Power and the Glory 1940
Greene, Graham The End of the Affair 1951
Greene, Graham The quiet American 1955
Grossman, Vasily Leben und Schicksal 1989
Gruenter, Undine Der verschlossene Garten 2004
Hale, Shannon The Goose Girl 2003
Halldór Laxness Sein eigener Herr 1935
Hamilton, Patrick Hangover Square 1941
Hamsun, Knut Hunger 1890
Handke, Peter Langsame Heimkehr 1979
Hanff, Helene 84, Charing Cross Road 1970
Harkaway, Nick The gone-away World 2008
Haushofer, Marlen Die Wand 1962
Heller, Joseph Catch-22 1961
Helprin, Mark Winter’s Tale 1959
Hens, Gregor Nikotin 2011
Hernandez, Gilbert Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories 2003
Herrndorf, Wolfgang Tschick 2010
Hill, Lawrence The Book of Negroes 2007
Hillers, Marta Eine Frau in Berlin 1954
Hofstadter, Douglas Gödel, Escher, Bach 1979
Hornschemeier, Paul Mother, Come Home 2003
Irving, John A Prayer for Owen Meany 1989
Ivo Andrić Die Brücke über die Drina 1943
Jackson, Shirley We have always lived in the Castle 1962
Johnson, Crockett Harold and the purple Crayon 1955
Johnson, Denis Jesus’ Son 1992
Jones, James From here to Eternity 1950
Joris-Karl Huysmans Gegen den Strich 1884
Kapuscinski, Ryszard Imperium 1993
Kapuscinski, Ryszard Afrikanisches Fieber 1998
Kästner, Erich Fabian 1931
Kawabata, Yasunari Ein Kirschbaum im Winter 1954
Kertész, Imre Roman eines Schicksallosen 1975
Kesey, Ken Sometimes a great Notion 1963
Kirkman, Robert Invincible 2003
Kleeberg, Michael Karlmann 2007
Klein, Georg Roman unserer Kindheit 2010
Klein, Naomi The Shock Doctrine 2007
Köhlmeier, Michael Abendland 2007
Kundera, Milan Die Unsterblichkeit 1990
Lamb, Wally I know this much is true 1998
Leavitt, Sarah Tangles 2010
Lenz, Siegfried Deutschstunde 1968
Lermontov, Mikhail Ein Held unserer Zeit 1840
Lethem, Jonathan Motherless Brooklyn 1999
Levi, Primo Das Periodische System 1975
Levithan, David The Realm of Possibility 2004
Llosa, Mario Vargas Gespräch in der Kathedrale 1969
Mann, Klaus Der Wendepunkt 1942
Mansfield, Catherine The Collected Stories 1911-1924
Marías, Javier Dein Gesicht morgen 2001
Marlantes, Karl Matterhorn 2009
Martin, George R.R. A Game of Thrones 1996
Maugham, W. Somerset The Razor’s Edge 1943
McCarthy, Cormac Blood Meridian 1985
McCullers, Carson The Heart is a lonely Hunter 1940
McLuhan, Marshall The Gutenberg Galaxy 1962
McLuhan, Marshall The Medium is the Message 1967
McMurty, Larry Lonesome Dove 1985
Meyer, Clemens Als wir träumten 2006
Meyer, Clemens Gewalten 2010
Mitchell, David Ghostwritten 1999
Mitchell, Joseph Up the old Hotel 1992
Moore, Alan V for Vendetta 1988
Mora, Terézia Der einzige Mann auf dem Kontinent 2009
Moravia, Alberto Verachtung 1954
Müller, Herta Der König verneigt sich und tötet 2003
Musil, Robert Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften 1933
Nace, Don Drawn Out 2005
Ness, Patrick The Knife of never letting go 2008
Nilsen, Anders Don’t go where I can’t follow 2007
O’Brien, Tim The Things they carried 1990
O’Connor, Flannery The Complete Stories 1971
O’Neill, Jamie At Swim, two Boys 2000
Oksanen, Sofi Fegefeuer 2007
Orringer, Julie The invisible Bridge 2010
Orwell, George A Collection of Essay 1931
Orwell, George Down and out in Paris and London 1933
Osang, Alexander Die Nachrichten 2000
Oz, Amos Ein anderer Ort 1973
Özdogan, Selim Die Tochter des Schmieds 2005
Peace, David The damned Utd 2006
Perec, Georges Das Leben. Gebrauchsanweisung. 1978
Perkins Gilman, Charlotte The Yellow Wall-Paper 1892
Pessoa, Fernando Das Buch der Unruhe 1982
Powers, Richard The Time of our Singing 2002
Price, Richard Clockers 1992
Puzo, Mario The Godfather 1969
Pym, Barbara Excellent Women 1952
Pynchon, Thomas Against the Day 2006
Rabagliati, Michel Paul Goes Fishing 2006
Randt, Leif Schimmernder Dunst über CobyCounty 2011
Remarque, Erich Maria Der Weg zurück 1931
Rhys, Jean Good Morning, Midnight 1939
Rilke, Rainer Maria Briefe an einen jungen Dichter 1929
Rinck, Monika Ah, das Love-Ding! 2006
Robinson, Marilynne Housekeeping 1980
Rosenfeld, Astrid Adams Erbe 2011
Roth, Henry Mercy of a rude Stream 1990
Roth, Philip American Pastoral 1997
Rothfuss, Patrick The Name of the Wind 2007
Ruff, Matt Fool on the Hill 1988
Ruff, Matt Set this House in Order 2003
Sacco, Joe Safe Area Gorazde 2000
Salih, Tayeb Zeit der Nordwanderung 1969
Salinger, J.D. Fanny and Zooey 1955
Sandig, Ulrike Almut Flamingos 2010
Saramago, José Die Stadt der Blinden 1995
Schmidt, Gary D. Okay for now 2011
Schrott, Raoul Tristan da Cunha 2003
Selznick, Hugo The Invention of Hugo Cabret 2007
Shilts, Randy And the Band played on 1987
Simmel, Johannes Mario Liebe ist nur ein Wort 1963
Simon, David Homicide 1991
Sims, Dave Cerebus 1981
Sister Souljah The coldest Winter ever 1999
Skloot, Rebecca The immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 2010
Smith, Betty A Tree grows in Brooklyn 1943
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Krebsstation 1967
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Im ersten Kreis 1968
Soseki, Natsume Kokoro 1914
Stegner, Wallace Angel of Repose 1971
Stevens, Chevy Still Missing 2010
Strugatsky, Boris und Arkady Picknick am Wegesrand 1972
Styron, William Sophie’s Choice 1979
Talese, Gay Fame and Obscurity 1970
Tanizaki, Junichiro Lob des Schattens 1934
Tanizaki, Junichiro The Makiota Sisters 1948
Tatsumi, Yoshihiro A Drifting Life 2009
Tellkamp, Uwe Der Turm 2008
Terkel, Studs Race 1992
Towles, Amor Rules of Civility 2011
Tsukiyama, Gail The Samurai’s Garden 1994
Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim The Guns of August 1962
Turgenev, Ivan Tagebuch eines überflüssigen Menschen 1850
Undset, Sigrid Kristin Lavranstochter 1920
Verghese, Abraham Cutting for Stone 2009
Vidal, Gore Lincoln 1984
von Arnim, Elizabeth The enchanted April 1922
von Doderer, Heimito Die Strudlhofstiege 1951
von Doderer, Heimito Die Dämonen 1965
Vonnegut, Kurt Cat’s Cradle 1963
Vonnegut, Kurt Breakfast for Chamions 1973
Wallace, David Foster Consider the Lobster 2005
Walser, Martin Brandung 1987
Waugh, Evelyn Brideshead Revisited 1945
Wertz, Julia Drinking at the Movies 2010
Wharton, Edith The House of Mirth 1905
Wiesel, Elie Night and Day 1960
Wodehouse, P.G. The Code of the Woosters 1938
Wolf, Christa Kindheitsmuster 1977
Wolf, Christa Kein Ort. Nirgends. 1979
Wolfe, Thomas The Web and the Rock 1939
Wolff, Tobias This Boy’s Life 1989
Woolf, Virginia A Room of one’s own 1928
Woolf, Virginia The Waves 1931
Wright, Richard Native Son 1940
Záfon, Carlos Ruiz Der Schatten des Windes 2003
Zamyatin, Yevgeny Wir 1920
Zander, Judith Dinge, die wir heute sagten 2010
Zarev, Vladimir Zerfall 2003
Zola, Émile Germinal 1885
Zweig, Stefan Die Welt von gestern: Erinnerungen eines Europäers 1943
Zypkin, Leonid Ein Sommer in Baden-Baden 1984

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Update, November 2011: gelesene Bücher

[Sobald ich 10 Bücher aus der Liste gelesen habe, ergänze ich die Liste um 10 neue (Ersatz-)Kandidaten.]

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verwandte Links:

Stapel ungelesener Bücher (Summer Reading)

good (?) unread books, August 2011.

Das Handwerk des Tötens. Das Herz ist ein einsamer Jäger (SZ-Bibliothek, #35) Das kunstseidene Mädchen. Zeitoun The Berlin Stories: Mr Noris Changes Trains & Goodbye To Berlin

01: Norbert Gstrein: “Das Handwerk des Tötens”

02: Carson McCullers: “The Heart is a lonely Hunter”

03: Irmgard Keun: “The Artificial Silk Girl”

o4: Dave Eggers: “Zeitoun”

05: Christopher Isherwood: “The Berlin Stories”

Die Tochter des Schmieds Disturbances In The Field The Brothers K Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays An Accidental Man

06: Selim Özdogan: “Die Tochter des Schmieds”

07: Lynne Sharon Schwartz: “Disturbances in the Field”

08: Duncan James Duncan: “The Brothers K”

09: David Foster Wallace: “Consider the Lobster”

10: Iris Murdoch: “An Accidental Man”

The Lay of the Land Underworld The Shadow of the Wind Mythologies A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

11: Richard Ford: “The Lay of the Land”

12: Don DeLillo: “Underworld”

13: Carlos Ruiz Zafon: “The Shadow of the Wind”

14: Roland Barthes: “Mythologies”

15: Betty Smith: “A Tree grows in Brooklyn”

Wiedersehen mit Brideshead The Lightning of August Abbitte Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates Schlachthof 5

16: Evelyn Waugh: “Brideshead Revisited”

17: Jorge Ibargüengoitia: “Augustblitze”

18: Ian McEwan: “Atonement”

19: Tom Robbins: “Fierce Invalids Home from hot Climates”

20: Kurt Vonnegut: “Slaughterhouse Five”

Als wir träumten Holidays on Ice Owls Do Cry Stiller: Roman Life of Pi

21: Clemens Meier: “Als wir träumten”

22: David Sedaris: “Holidays on Ice”

23: Janet Frame: “Owls do cry”

24: Max Frisch: “I’m not Stiller”

25: Yann Martel: “Life of Pi”

Brandung Shadows in Paradise Rolltreppe oder Die Herkunft der Dinge. Roman. London Fields Silbermond und Kupfermünze

26: Martin Walser: “Brandung”

27: Erich Maria Remarque: “Shadows in Paradise”

28: Nicholson Baker: “The Mezzanine”

29: Martin Amis: “London Fields”

30: W. Somerset Maugham: “The Moon and Sixpence”

Deutschstunde (SZ-Bibliothek, #28) Das Treibhaus (SZ-Bibliothek, #27) Ein anderer Ort (SZ-Bibliothek, #71) Das periodische System (SZ-Bibliothek, #48) Hero

31: Siegfried Lenz: “Deutschstunde”

32: Wolfgang Koeppen: “Das Treibhaus”

33: Amoz Oz: “Elsewhere perhaps”

34: Primo Levi: “The Periodic Table”

35: Perry Moore: “Hero”

What Is the What (Vintage) Der Zirkusbrand. Eine wahre Geschichte Salz im Blut. SZ-München Bibliothek The Rules of Attraction The Web and the Rock (Voices of the South)

36: Dave Eggers: “What is the What”

37: Stewart O’Nan: “The Circus Fire”

38: Andreas Neumeister: “Salz im Blut”

39: Bret Easton Ellis: “The Rules of Attraction”

40: Thomas Wolfe: “The Web and the Rock”

Pigafetta Meine Sonntage mit Sabine Christiansen. Wie das Palaver uns regiert. Verführungen. Roman (SZ-Bibliothek, #79) Verzichten auf. Der verschlossene Garten

41: Felicitas Hoppe: “Pigafetta”

42: Walter von Rossum: “Meine Sonntage mit Sabine Christiansen”

43: Marlene Streeruwitz: “Verführungen”

44: Matthias Kalle: “Verzichten auf”

45: Undine Gruenter: “Der verschlossene Garten”

Achter Achter. Go Ask Alice The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time A Million Little Pieces Die Reise.

46: Michael Ebmeyer: “Achter Achter”

47: Anonymous: “Go ask Alice”

48: Mark Haddon: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

49: James Frey: “A Million little Pieces”

50: Bernward Vesper: “Die Reise”

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Recommendations? Warnings? Ideas? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks!

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related Posts:

Underdog Literature: 15 fresh or exciting, off-the-wall titles

Here are 15 books that caught my interest lately.

Fresh, off-beat, quirky or curious titles that might deserve more attention:

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01: ANDREW SHAFFER: ‘Great Philosophers who failed at Love’, 208 pages, 2011. [Nonfiction]

02: ERNEST CLINE: ‘Ready Player One’, 384 pages, 2011.

03: BLAKE BUTLER: ‘There is no Year’, 416 pages, 2011.

04: ANNETT GRÖSCHNER, ‘Walpurgistag’, 448 pages, 2011. [German]

05: NAVID KERMANI, ‘Dein Name’, 1200 pages, 2011. [German]

06: GARY D. SCHMIDT: ‘Okay for now’, 368 pages, 2011. [Young Adult Lit]

07: JESSICA VALENTI: ‘The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is hurting Young Women’, 263 pages, 2009. [Nonfiction]

08: GEORGE ORWELL: ‘A Collection of Essays’, 316 pages, 1954. [Nonfiction]

09: DOOGIE HORNER: ‘Everything explained through Flowcharts’, 168 pages, 2010. [Nonfiction, Humor]

10: THOMAS MALLON: ‘A Book of one’s own: People and their Diaries’, 314 pages, 1984. [Nonfiction]

11: FREDERIC MARTEL: ‘Mainstream’, 464 pages, 2010. [Nonfiction]

12: JOE SACCO: ‘Safe Area Gorazde’, 240 pages, 2000. [Graphic Novel]

13: RAINA TELGEMEIER, ‘Smile’, 224 pages, 2010. [Graphic Novel]

14: GRANT MORRISON, ‘We3’, 104 pages, 2005. [Graphic Novel]

15: JOE KELLY, ‘I Kill Giants’, 184 pages, 2009. [Graphic Novel]

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Here are five books that made me curious enough to buy them:

01: BEN TANZER, ‘You can make him like you’, 222 pages, 2011.

02: DAN GARDNER, ‘Risk: The Science & Politics of Fear’, 320 pages, 2008.

03: THOMAS LEHR, ‘Nabokovs Katze’, 511 pages, 1999. [German, recommended by Marcel Maas]

04: JEFF SMITH, ‘Bone’, 1343 pages. [Graphic Novel]

05: KRISTOF MAGNUSSON, ‘Das war ich nicht’, 283 pages, 2010. [German]

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…and finally, here are three books that I read – and that were really good:

5 of 5 stars: GARY SHTEYNGART, ‘Super Sad True Love Story’, 464 pages, 2010.

4 of 5 stars: BARBARA HONIGMANN, ‘Das überirdische Licht: Rückkehr nach New York’, 160 pages, 2008. [Memoir, German]

4 of 5 stars: CRAIG THOMPSON: ‘Blankets’, 582 pages, 2003 [Graphic Novel… what took me so long?]

What have you read? What made you curious? Recommendations?

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