Now that it's October is it too soon to think about November's reading? You know what I always say, the next thing to reading is thinking about reading. Sometimes reading requires a little advance planning and as Caroline has announced the fifth annual German Literature Month in November that she and Lizzy are hosting, I might as well start giving it a little thought so I can clear my piles a bit and maybe start one of my potential reads since it is a chunkster.
You can do as little or as much as you'd like and there are plans for themed reads each week in November. The only 'requirement' is that the books be originally written in German. I will likely just try and read one or two books, but I might try and tailor my choices to coincide with their schedule, if I can.
So here's the fun part--looking through my piles and scoping potential reads. I do have the first choice all ready to go as it is a review copy of a novel I have been looking forward to reading:
The Vienna Melody by Ernst Lothar -- "All Vienna knows that the inhabitant of number 10 Seilerstatte is none other than Christopher Alt, piano maker, the best in Vienna, probably in all of Austria, and possiblly the world over. His piano keys have given life to melodies by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and many more. On his deathbed, moved by the wish to keep his children united, he leaves a will specifying that his descendants, if they are to get their inheritance, must live together in the family home." I lived for a year in Austria and traveled often to Vienna so I am very much looking forward to this portrait of a family, a home and hopefully a city. The novel was written in 1944 and has just this summer been reissued by Europa Editions.
Another "Vienna" book I have long wanted to read (had to have it in hardcover when it first came out--and now I think it might even be out of print--yikes) is Eva Menasse's Vienna. "From this tale's very beginning—the birth of the narrator's father in the middle of a bridge party—the reader is plunged headlong into a novel crowded with voices, characters, tragedy, and joy." It sounds like it might be a rather circuitous family tale through the twentieth century, but what's one more challenging book to add to my in progress collection?
Something by Stefan Zweig. Maybe short stories as I have his Collected Stories, which I have dipped into in the past. Or maybe one of his many novellas. Something by him, because he is really good and it has been far too long since I have read his work.
If I do read along with the group I might pick up The Ghost-Seer by Friedrich von Schiller. "For a rich young prince and his loyal companion, Venice promises nothing but unfettered pleasure—until they encounter a mysterious masked Armenian who delivers them a strange prophecy. And when his words prove true, this enigmatic figure develops a deeply sinister influence over them, drawing them into darker forms of 'magic.' As the narrative progresses, it become increasingly unclear whether the apparitions the prince sees are the manifestations of a troubled spirit world or simply an elaborate hoax."
I should really read something by a woman writer, too. I might pick up something by Christa Wolf, and I have The Quest for Christa T. "Christa is a young girl in Hitler's Germany; she survives to embrace the new order but her idealism withers as crass materialists corrode its dream. Her story is the story of a whole generation, and a celebration of the unique value of each human being and all human life." She seems, however, a very formidable writer, so it might not work to read her as well as the Lothar novel.
So, maybe Herta Müller would work? I have several of her novels, including The Hunger Angel and The Passport. The first novel might be a tad too heavy: "In The Hunger Angel, Nobel laureate Herta Müller calls upon her unique combination of poetic intensity and dispassionate precision to conjure the distorted world of the labor camp in all its physical and moral absurdity." The Passport is "a beautiful, haunting novel whose subject is a German village in Romania caught between the stifling hopelessness of Ceausescu’s dictatorship and the glittering temptations of the West."
"Before Sex and the City there was Bridget Jones. And before Bridget Jones was The Artificial Silk Girl." I find that a most intriguing statement and wonder if it is anywhere near the truth. It makes it sounds as is the novel is quite light-hearted, and I might need something lighter amongst all these other heavy reads, so I will be pulling Irmgard Keun's novel The Artificial Silk Girl out to round out my pile.
Of course you never know what I might come across between now and November. A good mystery or crime novel perhaps? Surely you would think I have something on my shelves. Maybe you have read a good German novel this year? Please, do tell, if you have. Last year there was quite a turn out of readers. Will you be reading along, too?