Sunday, February 7, 2010

Volksfeinde - Just A Book Review

I doubt the intelligentsia ever believed that "the internet" would destroy "the book", yet I grew up surrounded by such portentous prophecies (coming from screens). Perhaps it was just a mean grown-up joke that I wasn't supposed to get, a joke with "esprit". However, most prophecies become true in unforeseen ways. While the intelligentsia of the early 90s had pointed towards a war of media, it was all about the content they offer. The fact that most readers don't read anymore doesn't need much of an explanation. Why would anyone read a book when they can watch "The Wire" for 60 hours?

I personally did read quite some books in the past, but I also studied philosophy and literature plus I didn't have any internet connection for many years. When I finished school, I went to 1&1 and got myself hooked up, ever since then I haven't read anything but my own fragments, yet they shouldn't count as books: they don't have ISBN-numbers.

However, I decided to read again. And just to anticipate the "trace of honesty" that attracted myself to what I'm about to review, my decision was based on the following two reasons: 1. The Fun Club needs to publish book reviews to strenghten its position as party intellectuals' darling. 2. Since I don't collect vinyls, I should at least be a book nerd given that my technical skills are not very much advanced. There is nothing preposterous about neither 1 nor 2, everything that ever became (perhaps too) important to me, was forced upon myself by myself for "false" reasons.

I can be somewhat "extreme", so they say, and that might be why I picked  two books at the same time, both of them written by men with whom I entertain strong love-hate relationships, none of them mutual of course. So I first chose the "Josephstetralogie", apart from "Königliche Hoheit" what's missing to close "das Buch Thomas Mann", how the fuck did I make it through all these pages, and then decided to read "Ennemies publics" on the side. As you might know, I'm Berlin based now and somewhat eager to improve my German language skills, so I picked the German translation "Volksfeinde" published at Dumont in summer 2009. 

In "Volksfeinde" we find Bernhard-Henri Lévy and Michel Houellebecq exchanging letters - and how I love letters! Their self-proclaimed "Bekenntnisliteratur" initiates itself in terms of an understated confession: their correspondence is the result of an "idea" they had over dinner. It seems somewhat important to keep that in mind, although I'm not quite sure if anything should be derived from it. What I am sure of is that Michel Houellebecq, a man with whom I've been struggling with for almost ten years now, has to be approved. Point.

[to be continued]