1.14.2009

Book Review: Eros




Last Christmas, Brent gave me a movie we both adored when we saw it in the theater: Once. We even have the soundtrack. After opening it I realized he did not know that I don’t watch movie more than once and I also don’t read books more than once. Unless, that is, I don’t understand what happened.

I just finished reading Eros, by Helmut Krausser. The story is set in Germany, in fact the author lives in Berlin. (Reader thinks: Ah, Berlin, how I love thee….) As the name implies, the book is a love story, but to whom is unclear.

The book covers eight days in an author’s life. During those eight days, he is told the story of one ailing yet ├╝ber-rich man’s life. The subject of the book, the ailing man, was born during the Second World War, his parents were at least tangentially involved with the Nazis, and he lived a very affluent life. And he is obsessed with one woman, Sofie, throughout his life. The man wants the author to document his life and his “works” before he dies. At the end I was left feeling that the story might just be real. I wanted to know who this mogul was that had all this money and spent all this time running around after one woman.

But at the end of the book I was left wondering what exactly happened. I could not make out who did what, and what was real. Was any of it real? The last page in the book, a kind of afterward, tells the reader that nothing in the book is real. But that is what the rich guy told the author to tell everyone. I guess any book that makes you want to believe that it could be real can be considered a success.

The translation left a bit to be desired. There were substantial typos throughout the book that at one point became distracting to me. I wasn’t particularly sure of the translation either. I think I would have said some things differently.

However, because the book is so entrenched with the history of Germany, it is hard to translate some items, for example neger kuss. Typing that even feels funny. This item is basically a lump of marshmallow dipped in chocolate. The direct translation of the name of this item is nigger kiss. Nice. No, not nice. Perhaps a bit of discussion about the difficulties of translation is in order but I don’t have a solution for translating these types of cultural difficulties. That is what the Germans call it, and it is in the book. It seems offensive to me, but German’s sometimes think Americans take our politically correctness too far.

The author has been called the greatest living German author, and I understand why after reading Eros. What a solid read. But I am not going to read it again either.

2 comments:

SAHM said...

You NEVER read a book or watch a movie for a second time? That seems crazy to me! That is like not listening to a song more than once, or eating your favorite dessert more than once, or wearing a shirt more than once . . . okay, maybe a bit of a stretch on those last two, but I can't imagine!

harkinna said...

Ok almost never. I really don't like to...haha.