The question How German Is It underlies the conduct and actions of the characters in Walter Abish’s novel, an icy panorama of contemporary. The question HOW GERMAN IS IT underlies the conduct and actions of the characters in Walter Abish’s new novel, an icy panorama of contemporary Germany. The question implicit in the title of Walter Abish’s novel1 immediat alerts us to problems moment in German history, Abish plays with the familiar images such .

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His postmodern flourishes serve to accentuate the newness and uncertainty of the moments in time he writes about, while also raising larger questions about humanity and the Holocaust. All I’m saying is, remember that you’ve read it so you don’t get sucked into the vacuum that erases your memory of the thing. The former is illustrated by a town renamed after a contemporary philosopher where the past is literally covered up by concrete a sewer pipe collapse revels a mass grave from a former prison camp and figuratively all library card catalog entries for the town’s prior name redirect to the new one and nothing else.

But the key character here is a visitor to Brumholdstein–Helmuth’s novelist-brother Ulrich, who’s apparently guilty of having turned in his first wife’s terrorist cronies writers can afford no loyalties: Even after reading the back summary, trying to process the cover photo, and attempting to understand where Abish fit into literature somewhere in the ’70s Barthelme burn-all-the-rules-down-in-a-weird-humorous-way slice of things, I believeI still may have taken my time starting this one.

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Aibsh first novel, Duel Sitedid not appear until Abish was turning forty. A young Walter Abish and his parents fled Austria in the late s and after the better part of two decades first in Shanghai, then Israel, he came to America, finally beginning to publish English fiction and poetry in his early 40s. The overall question seems to be, how can we move forward without accepting our past? Zbish Alphabetical Africa, for instance, the first chapter consists entirely ot words beginning with the letter “A.

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A mesmeric peep into the postwar German psyche. Brumholdstein was the site of a notorious gas chamber and concentration camp, now buried beneath the modern facade. To ask other readers questions about How German Is Itplease sign up.

I did learn some about Germany as the book was educational at times.

Abish, Walter. “How German Is It” () | Blogging The Classics

It is one that has in it a great deal of anguish: They have discarded the elitist von from their aristocratic last name, much to the disapproval of the residents of Brumholdstein—the chic, uber-modern community in which they live. He moved to the United States in and became an American citizen in This article about a s novel is a stub. As Abish writes of the naming of the town: We got thousands of slides and so much information you’d think we were being trained as Medics! The question HOW GERMAN IS IT underlies the conduct and actions of the characters in Walter Abish’s new novel, an icy panorama of contemporary Germany, in which the tradition of order and obedience, the patrimony of the saber and the castle on the Rhine, give way to the present, indiscriminate fascination with all things American.

How German Is It is perhaps his most celebrated novel, and certainly his most complex. And from there the plot and sub-plot becomes so multi-layered I wanted to hurt someone.

In comparison to her, Gisela was by far more agile, more inventive.


Inthey moved to Israel, where Abish served in the army and developed an interest in writing. The only evidence of life on the passing trains was an occasional scarecrow face framed in the tiny cutout window of a freight car.

This isn’t a bad book, but one to be read instead of reviewed. Also, I read this in the final vomitous days of Trump’s bid for the US presidency, in a state of global apocalyptic hysteria. I fear that these issues are being buried and will rise again. Abish gathers his rather deadly view of contemporary Iit life around–rather abis through–this alienated writer-figure. SinceAbish has taught at several eastern universities and colleges.


The question posed by the title certainly captures the central dilemma of the characters in the story, caught between a tradition of order, emotional reserve, and cold analysis of facts, and the pervasive presence of American consumer culture in late-twentieth century Europe. I fear I lack deeper understanding of its political, cultural and philosophical nuances.

How German Is It (Wie Deutsch ist es)

Float my boat, this one did not. How Qbish is it? Remembered loving it the first time, but this time I felt less of a connection to it. Nov 04, Jerrod rated it it was amazing. Published November 17th by New Directions first published By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Part of the book With a title like this geeman a last name like minehow could I not read this book?

Return to Book Page. The central character’s father was executed in the s for plotting against Hitler.

About half way sbish this novel teacher Anna Heller is discussing with her primary school students the concept of familiarity. Apr 17, S. Abish is one of the few contemporary writers willing to risk a reference-list novel Alphabetical Africa ; his contexts tend to gsrman like orgone boxes, energizing plots and characters by first stifling them.

Then there are the titles of the book the main character has written: He’s not like them, but if you like W. Penguin Modern Classics, pp. Pages to import images to Wikidata All stub articles. It is like a trap in the dark forest that is always around you, around the city where our “hero” stays Not only the two brothers, but also their old butler and some of the women in their lives narrate.

You are commenting using your WordPress. This is pretty much what one finds in German TV serials.