Jenny Erpenbeck ´ 2 ReviewRuminating over lifeReading the German author Jenny Erpenbeck always is uite a challenge In this novel too you are constantly puzzling who is talking here what is it about how does this chapter relate to the others etc Endless uestions that may not even be relevantWhat keeps recurring is the theme of the leanness of life a child s life that is broken in the bud by cot death a girl who suddenly commits suicide
together with a boy an activist woman who is constantly on her guard against the betrayal of Communist riends a celebratedwith a boy AN ACTIVIST WOMAN WHO IS CONSTANTLY activist woman who is constantly her guard against the betrayal of Communist riends a celebrated German writer who s reputation is annulled when the Wall Friscos Kid (Tall, Dark Dangerous fell a demented 90 year old woman who dies in a desolate retirement home You cannot call this uplifting reading and with a German title as Aller tage Abend always evening that was predictable In every episode death has theinal word as it should be or shouldn t itThe interlude pieces suggest that Erpenbeck always sketches an episode of the life of a woman in very different contexts a woman who could in Courting Miss Adelaide (Noblesville, Indiana, fact always be the same person resurrected in a different time in a different context given some kind of coincidence One of the intermezzos is a long staccato of what if sentences and this makes you conclude that with a small change a handful of snow lifes can take a completely different turn and can be revived endlessly But you are not going to hear me say that this is the message that Erpenbeck has put into this novel she is intelligent enough to leave that to the readerJust like in Heimsuchung Visitation the very dramatic German history of the 20th centuryorms the background A Convenient Wife for this novel and of course this volatility lends itself perfectly to the very changeable situations she describes Once again this is done in a very ingenious way with intertwined stories that ultimately refer to each other And again regularly there are appealing poetic passages But I personallyound that A Colton Target first novel Visitation to be homogeneous and successful in this regard In any case Erpenbeck definitely is a writeror ruminants The Love Isnt Enough first two sections of this novel took my breath away I slowed my pace down to a close reading level absorbing the resonances between theirst two possible lives of this girl child and entertaining the possibilities in subtle shifts that might change a life I immediately Prodigal Prince Charming found it profound than Kate Atkinson s Life After Life which starts at a galloping pace and a very different style An infant who suffers a crib deathinds herself with suicidal ideations in another life Does he know what a burden she is Task Force Bride finding life whichrom inside always looked to her like a sphere with perfectly smooth black walls and you keep running and running and there isn t even a shabby little door to let you outI cleared my Sunday evening it was just me and the cat to read the second half the three seuential possible lives of the character that take up near where the *Previous Ended The What Might *ended The what might happened if this was different or if one tiny change was made I A Soldiers Family (Wings of Refuge, felt challenged as a reader to enter the later lives as deeply as I had the early lives I was still absorbing the impact of theirst 100 pages I wished Desejo Indomado (To Tame A Playboy, for the Books to be longer so that I could spend time with her in each new setting In Book III the character turns to Communism and this section was distancing and ellipticalragmented cold I realize that the style was a reflection of the rhetoric of the comrades so it was deliberate In Book IV our character s son is a central Dangerously Attractive (Harlequin Intrigue figure recounting his and his mother s life simultaneously with her death as shealls down the stairs if only she d stepped differently if only if only By Book V she is an old woman I had some trouble Mistress fully imagining her in a retirement home These are minor complaints and probably myailure as a reader and not legitimate problems with the book The return of the Goethe volumes and the resonances Cinderella Story Part 2 (36 Hours) from all the possible lives moved me I had been listening to the audio of Moorehead s tragic Holocaust history A Train in Winter in the days leading up to reading this and the horrors of death camps and the human struggle against meaningless evil were informing my reading of Erpenbeck The twentieth century itself the century of thanatos and Germany are backdrops essential influences and Ielt invited to apply the If only uestions to the great wars and deaths of the century Death After DeathI read the A Ranchers Redemption first long section of this intricate novel in German as Aller Tage Abend over a year ago It was about the time that Kate Atkinson s Life After Life was going to press so there can be no accusation of plagiarism between the two authors but. In Galicië sterft aan het begin van de twintigste eeuw de baby van een joodse moeder en een katholieke vader Onontkoombaar noodlot of gruwelijk toeval Had bijvoorbeeld de moeder of de vader ’s nachts het raam opengerukt een handvol sneeuw van de vensterba. Rs of narrative I missed the balance of the earlier book I was intrigued but seldom devastated In particular the lethal absurdity of Soviet bureaucracy which constitutes the whole of Book IIIirst confused and then annoyed me as communist dialectic tends to do I was glad to return to a saner world in Book IVAnd so to Book V the shortest of all a small miracle For here Erpenbeck ties the waning century to the wandering mind of a very real old woman in a Berlin retirement home The day room is A Doctor, a Nurse, a Christmas Baby full of stories not being told Not told in words perhaps But then the author embarks on a stunning coda recapitulating the tragedy of the century in terms of objects a patched valise a gilt carriage clock and a leather bound set of Goethe I can t say why but theirate moved me at least as much as the many deaths of her central character HAPPENS TO THIS NOVEL IN ITS MIDDLE SECTION to this novel in its middle section opening and closing are the A Mother in the Making fruits of geniusPS I have learnedrom a Her Kind Of Cowboy friend that the life of the protagonist here shorn of the various possible earlier deaths that were later rescinded has much in common with that of the author s grandmother If so this puts a different complexion on the book It makes the lack of namesor example poignant rather than distancing It explains the long Soviet nightmare in the middle And it enhances the special ualities of the His Pregnant Christmas Princess final section making them even moving as a posthumous personal tributeHere is the original German of theirst passage uoted above Finden und Through the Language Glass finden hat ihm sein Freund bei der Hochzeit gew nscht zweiundsiebzig Jahre zuvor und so dauert das Finden bis heute aninden die Weisheit in der Tora inden eine gute Frau inden ein riedliches Leben bis zur letzten Schaufel Erde die *Auf Den Leichnam Geworfen Wird *den Leichnam geworfen wird einen Tod der leicht ist wie ein Kuss wie der Kuss mit den der Herr Adam zum Leben erweckt hat Atem hat er ihm durch die Nase geblasen und k sst den Atem wenn man Gl ck hat eines Tages sanft und leicht wieder ort The repetitions of the words You Are Not A Gadget finden Kuss and Atem show Erpenbeck s poetic bent better than anything else Also the easylowing of one idea into another almost regardless of syntax with nothing stronger than a comma Looking at this again I can t help Sanctuary feeling that Susan Bernofsky may have overpunctuated her translation trying to give logical structure to something that is merely intended as aree seuence of thoughts Perhaps something like the Forever Faithful (Forever Faithful, following Find andind his Friendfluence friend wished him at his wedding seventy two years earlier and theinding continues to this day One Part Woman find wisdom in the Torahind a good wife Stranger find a peaceful life until the last shovelful of earth is tossed on the corpseind a death as easy as a kiss the breath with which the Lord waked Adam to life the breath that he blew into his nostrils and the breath that if one is lucky he will one day kiss softly and gently away translation mine Already the title of Jenny Erpenbeck s new novel ALLER TAGE ABEND THE END OF ALL DAYS gives me pause It is an old Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis fashioned phrase that goes back at least to Martin Luther The story begins at the grave site of a baby girl and while the grandmother accepts this death without uestioning the why the thoughts of the mother wander into all the possibleuture lives that the girl might have had One death is not the end of all days irst spoken by the grandmother becomes the underlying theme that weaves through the book The author builds her novel around the undamental uestion what if What coincidences unforeseen encounters personal actio Incredibly brilliant writing on essentially the interconnections between a series of alternate universes I bought the book without knowing anything about it except my affection The English Spy (Gabriel Allon, for Erpenbeck and I think I might have benefitedrom not knowing the concept which has been spoiled all over Goodreads but I won t address it here This is structurally To See Paris and Die fascinating 5 linked short novels that congeal into a whole that sums up a life better than a realist novel could There are stylistic differences based on era that help set the books apart My plea is to give it through part two until then it mighteel a bit cliched but she s building something wonderful here This complaint is nothing definitive but I Out of China found myself drifting when I read it particularly at the confusing beginning of part 3 there s a reason it is written the way it is but I think it s a misstep Part 4 is the highlight of the book and has an absolute sublime 3 pages 107 109 in my edition that sing This is a sad sad sad piece ofiction so bear that in mind too It s not really like anything else which is its best ualit. Ant geschreven zeer ontroerende roman voert de lezer mee naar Wenen tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog Moskou aan de vooravond van de Tweede Wereldoorlog en Berlijn vóór en na de val van de Muur Een diepgravende reflectie over leven dood en de rol van het toev.