Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What the Heck Did I Just Read?--And Other Questions I am Saving for Our In-Store Lit Group Discussion of The Passport Next Tuesday, March 2nd, 7 PM

Here's my first complaint and it's not about the book per se. Technos can ravage the entire book industry, but they can't figure out a way to add an umlaut to most things on the web (or an accent) without a hullaballoo. Like Herta Muller, the author of The Passport, for example. Our store database from Ingram ("Ipage") only spells the author's name as "Mueller", but some of her titles are spelled both ways. Cross "passport" and "muller" and you get nothing. I know how to fix it in a word document, but here? I'm stuck.

It's just one of the things that confused me about Nobel-Prize-winner Muller's novel about an ethnic German family trying to get a passport out of the country. I agree with some postings I've seen that think the original German title, translated to Man is Nothing but a Pheasant in the World, would give readers a much better indication of what they are getting into. It's a surrealist delight, with missed cues, clashing images, and stark, spare wording. A bit Gordon Lishy, really (you should remember our iconic editor from the Raymond Chandler biography).

But isn't this just the kind of book that's perfect for a book club? How can you be culturally literate if you haven't read the current Nobel Prize winner? But after reading The Passport, you'll have questions.

We're answering them (I hope) on Tuesday, March 2nd, at 7 PM (my apologies for bumping our session from Monday, but I'm visiting my mom for the weekend).

Here's a fabulous review from The Independent.

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