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Thread: Heinrich Böll

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Heinrich B?ll

    I'll plug for one of the novels: the quietly devastating And Never Said a Word. Boll also wrote a lovely little Oirish travelogue: Irish Journal.
    The maker of kitsch does not create inferior art, he is not an incompetent or a bungler, he cannot be evaluated by aesthetic standards; rather, he is ethically depraved, a criminal willing radical evil. - Hermann Broch

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Heinrich B?ll

    Melville House is publishing new editions ("The Essential Heinrich Boll") of eight Boll books over the next year. The first batch is out this month and includes The Clown, The Saftey Net, and Billiards at Half-Past Nine. In April, we'll get The Train Was on Time, Group Portrait with Lady, and Irish Journal. Then, next January we get What's to Become of the Boy: A Memoir and The Complete Stories of Heinrich Boll.

    I have the first batch and started with The Clown. I was wary to begin it, though, thinking it would be overly dense, when that's just not what I was in the mood for. I was surprised, then, to find it highly entertaining. Even minor moments are told with wit and style, and, though it has its abstractions, it is filled with intimate pathos.

    All that said, I'm not sure how well it will stick in my memory. By about 2/3s of the way through it I was ready to move on, even though I was still enjoying it. I will be reading the rest in due time.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Heinrich B?ll

    Böll is never dense, I think.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Heinrich B?ll

    I have been struggling for several weeks now with Billiards at Half Past Nine. I find it a fascinating book but the slog is difficult. I don't know quite what to attribute my problems to but I have to say that I agree 100% with mirabell. I came to Böll through his short stories, which I enjoy. This is my first shot at a novel and if the rest are like this, I won't be reading many of them. Am I the only one (besides the estimable mirabell, of course) that has this issue?

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Heinrich B?ll

    Well, I haven't read his short stories but in my only approach to Böll's literature I read The Clown and frankly it wasn't what I expected. It was long ago but I didn't find it rewarding and it sort of put me off to read more of his works. Hadn't read this recommendation about his short stories but it could be a good choice if I decide to give him another try.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Heinrich B?ll

    I read The Clown over a dreary rainy weekend as a graduate student many years ago and enjoyed it, unlike Daniel. Perhaps the depressing weather added to the pleasure of reading a downbeat story (I wore a lot of grey and black back then). A short time later, I read Billiards, but didn't like that one, though too much time has passed to recall why.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Heinrich B?ll

    Having finally, FINALLY, finished Billiards, it is only fair that I weigh back in briefly. I think, in retrospect, much of my difficulty was the fact that he employs eleven (I think) different narrators and it takes time (and sometimes a lot of time for slow-witted folks like me) to figure out who the hell is narrating. The story is also parceled out in pieces and that doesn't help. However, there are a number of "clear" stretches where the writing is straightforward, the narrator clear, and the story begins to fall together. All in all, I think it is a very impressive book. I'm just not used to being challenged to quite this degree. Maybe that's shame on me, not on the author.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Heinrich B?ll

    Much of the story is told in flashbacks, from what I can recall. It's a book I read on my own, but one I might have appreciated more if I had read it in a lit course.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Heinrich B?ll

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie B View Post
    Much of the story is told in flashbacks, from what I can recall. It's a book I read on my own, but one I might have appreciated more if I had read it in a lit course.
    You are exactly correct: indeed, the entire "story" takes place on one day in 1958 as the family gathers to celebrate the patriarch's 80th birthday. The family history, so intertwined with and reflective of the history of Germany from the turn of the century through the war, is told in flashback or in recollection. But when you have eleven separate people narrating, all of whom recall different things or even the same things in different ways, it becomes much more challenging. And of course, the matriarch is institutionalized and her chapter is stream of consciousness.... Oy! I think you hit the nail on the head: this is a book to read with others, preferably with someone in charge who knows the book and the author.

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