Monday, November 20, 2006

Herr Lehmann

I'm reading several books at once, as usual, one of which I wish to praise tonight even though I've only just started in. The book is Herr Lehmann by Sven Regener, and I'm just loving it. I am already disappointed in advance that I will soon have finished it, I might just have to turn back and start again at page 1.

The book is a falling-in-love and coming-of-age tale set in a run-down part of West Berlin (as it then was) in the summer of 1989. Now, we all know what happened in the autumn of '89, but the characters obviously didn't know what was coming. (In this sense it's related to the situation of Flaubert's "Sentimental Education," where the young hero wanders about Paris learning about love and life while a bloody revolution rages in the next street over, all but unnoticed by him.) It's almost all dialogue, very realistic, funny, well-written. I've just finished the third scene, in which our hero falls in love with the new chef of his favourite cafe, who was annoyed by his order and came out to argue with him about it. The argument turns from the right time to eat Schweinebraten (him: now, for breakfast; her: later, for lunch) to a discussion of time in general and whether it passes faster or more slowly when one is drunk.
"That's illogical," she said. "The faster someone is, the slower time passes. It's like the Mayfly. For them, a single day is a lifetime. That's why you can't swat them. They see your hand racing towards them, approaching very slowly and so can easily fly out of the way. Because their perception is faster."

"You mean, because the Mayfly perceives things faster, time moves for them more slowly."

"Yes, of course. And sober people have a quicker perception than drunks, so they notice more things, so they make more use of their time, therefore time passes more slowly for sober people."


"What do you think, Karl? Does time pass faster or more slowly when you're drunk?"

"Is that what you've been talking about? You two are made for each other."

"Don't avoid the question. It's important."

Karl thought briefly. "I think, time passes faster. But the morning after balances it out."

"There, you see?" said the pretty chef with a satisfied smile.

The book was filmed in 2003, the English title is Berlin Blues which is also the name of the book in translation. The film is (so far) very true to the novel, probably because Regener himself adapted it. I would prefer to recommend the book, but if you know that you're not going to read it then do look out for the film.

In other news I would like to say "hello" to an anonymously lurking regular reader, a Mac-user from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Are you who I think you are? (Now there's a metaphysically loaded question!)

Twenty down, ten to go.



Blogger brooksba said...

Sounds enjoyable! I may have to check the book out.

November 20, 2006 at 11:05:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am who you think I am (at least, I am who I think I am, which is probably also who you think I am). Can you really track that? Computers are wonderful machines indeed. I must say that I am enjoying your blog, however, though commenting is not my strong suit.

November 21, 2006 at 2:04:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Anonymous Audrey said...

Sounds like a great book. I will definitely be picking it up soon!

November 21, 2006 at 4:36:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Jean said...

I like the sound of this. Discovered the charms of Kreuzberg, as well as the not-so-charms of East Berlin, a year or so before the Wall fell and retain many memories, knowing that it was all to change so soon. And I guess it's a metaphor for all of our disaffected generation - Berliners were just the cutting edge. Quite enough over-simplistic comment from me. Anyway, will look out for the book.

November 21, 2006 at 12:24:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Antonia said...

udge it is great, isnt it,alone the beginnign where he is drunk and this ugly dog is there and then when his motehr calls later the morning and announces teh visit and accuses him of faseln, Kind, du faselst, absolutely awesome,I was laughing tears and then the passage where they consider teh fact that one always has such strange dreams when one sleeps at the afternoon...great book,and film even almost as great...and yes this great conversation you quoted....I know such people from that age that really are as describe there.

November 21, 2006 at 5:53:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger mark said...

wow Udge-- ten to go! are you feeling a sense of relief?

November 21, 2006 at 5:56:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Antonia said...

udge can you please delete this comment and the other one, I m rubbish with computers and something went wrong here - so much confusion. oh dear, comment stalking, oh dear

November 21, 2006 at 5:56:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Udge said...

Yes, the book is definitely highly recommended.

Anonymous: glad you like it. Drop in any time.

Mark: yes, much as I've enjoyed it, I do think I need a short rest.

Antonia: well, I deleted the duplicate, but I'm keeping the other :-)

November 21, 2006 at 9:41:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Anonymous Mike said...

Hey Udge,

nice blog! I´m realy amused that there are so manny other " Herr Lehmann" fans around here! SoI´m sure you will enjoy the early years of Herr Lehmann wehn he lived in Bremen and was serving in the Bundeswehr. The book is calld Neue Vahr Süd!

You also should listen to the audiobook

cu mike

November 22, 2006 at 9:15:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Anonymous May said...

Poor Anonymous.
She/he is not an Anonymous any more. Now we all know a little about her/him.

November 22, 2006 at 8:53:00 p.m. GMT+1  

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