From Publishers Weekly
More like a lovely dirge that the blues, this novel, is set in 1989, just as Berlin's East-West divide is fading, features Frank Lehmann, nearly 30, examining his slowly dissipating track. He lives in a studio apartment on the West side, works at a bohemian Kreutzberg district bar, has moderate drinking habits and various romances: he judges himself content. However, a tension between Frank's self-assessment and what we see of his actual encounters drives this gentle book forward. Episodic chapters like "The Dog," "Mother," and "A Late Snack" cover precisely what their titles name, in a manner that mirrors Frank's what-you-see-is-what-you-get nature. His inchoate affair with a beautiful chef named Katrin never quite turns into a full-blown relationship. The closest thing he has to a best friend, a sculptor named Karl, is deeply unstable. A trip to the East with an envelope of family money goes lightly awry. By the time the Wall actually falls, "Herr Lehmann" (as friends jokingly call him with mock formality) has made no decisions of any sort, despite very involved internal negotiations. In most books, Frank's Warholian flatness would come off as pretentious or thin; here it is sweet, if a little cold, and the incidentals of old West Berlin make for a nice backdrop. (July)
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The lead singer of a German rock band tries his hand at fiction with hilarious results. Herr Lehmann, as his friends have taken to calling him in deference to his approaching thirtieth birthday, has been tending bar for nine years in a hip if seedy section of Berlin. Proving that slackers are the same the world over, Lehmann uses what little energy he possesses to duck his parents, recover from his frequent hangovers, and, in general, avoid serious commitments of any kind. But over the course of a few crucial months in 1989, he falls in and out of love with a beautiful chef; engages in absurdly comic encounters with a menacing dog, bureaucratic customs officials, and a rule-bound bus driver; and comes to the aid of his best friend, who suffers a nervous breakdown. And, in the anticlimactic finale, he witnesses the fall of the Berlin Wall. Deadpan dialogue, an overwhelming sense of ennui, and spot-on descriptions of countless dreary bars give this first novel its remarkably rich atmosphere. The German counterpart to Jay McInerney's classic depiction of the 1980s, Bright Lights, Big City
(1984). Joanne WilkinsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved