Ghosts of Berlin

Rudolph Herzog, trans. from the German by Emma Rault. Melville House, $17.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-61219-751-7
Everyday problems are complicated by weird plot thickeners in these seven vivid and intriguing stories from the author of A Short History of Nuclear Folly. A filmmaker as well and the son of director Werner Herzog, Herzog writes relatively lengthy stories told in short cuts; the reader has time to inhabit the world of the protagonist before the plot turns dark, often with a strain of deadpan humor. In “Needle and Thread,” Bjorn is so wrapped up in his corporate dealings that he ignores, at his own peril, the pleas of his daughter, Alena, about a figure lurking in her bedroom. In “Key,” the admittedly neurotic violinist Stiebel struggles to adjust to his new apartment and a move to Berlin. He develops a complicated relationship with a prickly neighbor named Wondrak, who triggers inexplicable emotions in him. In “Tandem,” Greek immigrant and language teacher Dmitri finds himself drawn to his sweet German student Lotte, until she commits a shockingly rapacious act. The common thread in the stories is the city of Berlin and the dark shadows in its history. These links unfold in different ways as each story progresses. That this history is rarely addressed directly adds tension and resonance. The macabre mischief in Herzog’s tales is far from benign and speaks eloquently to the anxiety of modern life. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/23/2019
Release date: 10/08/2019
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-61219-752-4
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