Stories Heinrich Boll

Heinrich Boll, Author, Leila Vennewitz, Translator Alfred A. Knopf $25 (685p) ISBN 978-0-394-51405-5
At one extreme of this collection of 67 fiction pieces by the late Nobel laureate are some stories so brief and fragmentary as to seem afterthoughts. At the other are the novellas, several of which, including The Soldier's Legacy (published separately in 1985), have the weight and density of novels. The total range is widefrom droll and facetious, mordant and caustic, as Boll could be when observing the grubby lives of his compatriots, to the brooding intensity of the pieces haunted by the Hitler era, telling of his own experiences as a draftee in the Wehrmacht (thought he was a Catholic pacifist) and as a prisoner of war. Better, a character says in a kind of summing-up, to be ""a dead Jew than a live German.'' If the lesser pieces are forgettably slight, overall the writer's distinctive virtues prevail: his wide culture and cultivated intelligence; his gift for parable and fable; his humane sensibility and eye for the mindless cruelties and desolations of war. And, perhaps above all, his talentas a character remarks, ``for turning everything into a symbolic event.'' February 28
Reviewed on: 02/01/1986
Release date: 02/01/1986
Paperback - 685 pages - 978-0-07-006422-5
Paperback - 690 pages - 978-0-8101-1207-0
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