cover image I Make Envy on Your Disco

I Make Envy on Your Disco

Eric Schnall. Univ. of Nebraska, $21.95 trade paper (290p) ISBN 978-1-4962-3901-3

An art adviser navigates his early mid-life crisis during a visit to Berlin in theater producer Schnall’s affecting debut. Sam Singer, 37, arrives from New York City in the early aughts to attend the opening of an art exhibition about ostalgie, or nostalgia for East Germany. Having recently seen a message on his longtime partner’s cellphone from another man, he feels unnerved and vulnerable. He goes to a club to hear some techno; befriends Magda, the gorgeous and enigmatic manager of his hotel; and meets up with hapless expat Jeremy, the nephew of one of his clients. While roaming the city’s graffitied streets, only halfheartedly visiting the galleries he’s come to see, he meets a gorgeous young artist named Kaspar, falls a little in love with Magda, and grows fond of the earnest Jeremy. Sam’s present-tense narration leaves little room to explore the central themes of nostalgia and restlessness, though Schnall succeeds at bringing the city’s strange beauty to life. This will strike a chord with anyone who’s been touched by the magic of Berlin. (May)