Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reading Frustrations & Siegfried Lenz

Early this morning I realized that my broken-leg confinement would be nearly unbearable without plenty of books to read.

This weekend I've been zooming through The Leopard, of course. At 400 pages, with 100 pages left to go, the case appears as though it's nearly solved, and, at this point, I'm very disappointed in Jo Nesbo's choice of the killer. Without giving anything away, I must say that I'm frustrated that loose ends are starting to be tied up around this individual. This character's motivation is so weak and unconvincing. Things don't seem to fit--nothing is satisfactory to me about this result, YET I must remember that I still have 117 pages left to read. So perhaps there's hope for me and The Leopard? When a crime thriller is 517 pages long, and I reach page 400, I feel I have a lot invested in the outcome. It's as if I'm saying to the author, "You better make good on this or else!"

I think this "frustration thing" I've been experiencing with The Leopard is 100 percent related to my frustration with life at the moment.

I'm reading a short story by the German author Siegfried Lenz. Like Gunter Grass and Heinrich Boll, Lenz was a member of the Gruppe 47. I should say I'm trying to read it because I'm stumbling over it in German. "The Listener, or the Description of a Route with a Hidden Motive" was first published in 2000 and is the first story in a wonderful little collection entitled Short Stories in German, which is a volume in the "parallel text" series published by Penguin. On the left-hand side of the page is the original German text and on the right is the translated English version. Another thing I like about this small collection is that all the stories were published in the 1990s-2002.


  1. I had a similar reaction when I read Nesbo's Snowman. Not sure if you liked that.
    It's been a long time since I last read Lenz. I think I've got some of his short stories here.
    I hope you are feeling much better by now.

    1. Caroline,
      Thank you for your good wishes. Yes, I am feeling better and stronger. The first two weeks were very hard, but at least I can really enjoy reading, studying, and watching movies now. Makes all the difference in my spirits.

      I knew nothing about Lenz until this weekend but have put him on my list of authors whose works I should delve into. Not a lot has been published here in translation, though his well-known The German Lesson is available. Have you read that?

    2. Lenz is such an underestimated author and outside Germany almost unknown. That's a pity, because he is a good storyteller and a true humanist. He was a strong supporter of Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik and the reconciliation with Poland. I would also recommend The German Lesson (one of the main characters is based on the expressionistic painter Emil Nolde) or The Heritage. There was also a volume with Selected Stories, but I suppose it is out of print now.