The Tower: A Novel by Uwe Tellkamp

d-piece

Read from July 09 to 13, 2014

 

Translated by Mike Mitchell

Dedication: For Annette and Meno Nikolaus Tellkamp

Description: In derelict Dresden a cultivated, middle-class family does all it can to cope amid the Communist downfall. This striking tapestry of the East German experience is told through the tangled lives of a soldier, surgeon, nurse and publisher. With evocative detail, Uwe Tellkamp masterfully reveals the myriad perspectives of the time as people battled for individuality, retreated to nostalgia, chose to conform, or toed the perilous line between East and West. Poetic, heartfelt and dramatic, The Tower vividly resurrects the sights, scents and sensations of life in the GDR as it hurtled towards 9 November 1989.Uwe Tellkamp was born in 1968 in Dresden. After completing his military service, he lost his place to study medicine on the grounds of ‘political sabotage’. He was arrested in 1989, but went on to study medicine in Liepzig, Dresden and New York, later becoming a surgeon. He has won numerous regional prizes for poetry, as well as the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for The Sleep in the Clocks. In 2008, he won the German Book Prize for The Tower.

Opening: The pedagogical province: I: Ascent: The electric lemons from V E B Narva decorating the family tree were faulty, flickered on and off, erasing the silhouette of Dresden down stream.

Dresden Castle and Cathedral.

The painting secured for Richard Hoffmann on his fiftieth birthday was entitled ‘Landscape during a Thaw‘ and that title could easily double up as a strapline for this story set at the end of Cold War East Germany.

It took a while for me to get into step with the writing style, yet I am pleased to have persevered because The Tower is a glorious, eye-opening period piece rendered with insight and infinite care. At times the writing reminded me of Celestial Harmonies, and at other times, because of the attention to detail, My Struggle, yet KOK is just another self-pitying, belly-button mining first-worlder who chose to rip apart those around him rather than love and respect those close to him. Here, the uncomfortable circumstances had to be endured and pandered to, for fear of the ever watchful secret services and their boot-lickers.

So yes, similarities spring to mind, however by the end, the discovery is that nope, this little bit of history has never been revealed to me quite as intimately before and I was checking details, dates and images as the story progressed. So to re-cap:

– 896 pages
– challenging writing
– engrossing insights into DDR
– satisfying more than enjoyable

3.5 Dresden Opera Houses

NOTES: ‘They came to Turmstrasse, the main though-road of the district, and from which it derived its popular name of the ‘Tower’.’ (page 12)

re the cover image: ‘he also touched – a superstition, the origin of which was lost – the wrought-iron flower on the gate, a strangely shaped ornament that could often be seen up here.’ (page 19) Meno named it a bee lily, and it is on the gate to the house with a thousand eyes.

‘Bruno, or On the Natural and the Divine Principle of Things’

Christian
Meno (uncle)
Ulrich (Christian’s other Rohde uncle)
Anne – mater
Richard Hoffmann – pater. Surgeon.
Robert – brother

Brezhnev died 1982

Andropov dropped off in 1985

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