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Ghost Dance in Berlin: A Rhapsody in Gray (Travelers' Tales) by [Peter Wortsman]

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Ghost Dance in Berlin: A Rhapsody in Gray (Travelers' Tales) Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 14 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"Peter Wortsman is [...] good company on his explorations. In Ghost Dance in Berlin: a Rhapsody in Gray, [he] writes: "Memory awaits at every turn." His affinity for German's "sublime mix of chiseled consonants and guttural intensity," resounds in some of the bravura passages [...], like the bird song he heard [...] "echoing harmonies and dissonances, reflecting jagged edges, runs in stockings, streaks in the sky, heartbreak and ecstasy [...]" [His] Berlin is "equally imagined and experienced," and it is no less real for that--Tess Lewis, The Arts Fuse Arts

"A unique and most beautiful evocation of a tantalizing city."
--Jan Morris
--This text refers to the paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Every great city is a restless work in progress, but nowhere was and is the urban impulse more in flux than in Berlin, that sprawling metropolis located directly on the fault line of history. A short-lived fever-dream of modernity and haven of the avant-garde in the Roaring Twenties, redubbed Germania and primped up into the megalomaniac fantasy of a Thousand-Year Reichstadt in the Thirties, only to be reduced in 1945 to a divided rubble heap, subsequently revived in a schizoid state of post-World War II duality, and reunited in 1989 when the wall came tumbling down — Berlin has since been reborn yet again as the hipster hub of the 21st century. This book is a hopscotch tour in time and space.

Part memoir, part travelogue, Ghost Dance in Berlin is an unlikely declaration of love, as much to a place as to a state of mind, by the American-born son of German-speaking Jewish refugees. Peter Wortsman’s fluency in German makes the text resound in eerie stereo. The winter of 2010 was so cold, he literally walked on water. From his perch in a lavish villa on Berlin’s biggest lake, he imagines the parallel celebratory haunting of two sets of ghosts, those of the exiled erstwhile owners, a Jewish banker and his family, and those of the Führer’s Minister of Finance and his entourage, who took over title, while in another villa across the lake another gaggle of ghosts is busy planning the Final Solution. Where a wall once stood dividing East and West the city remains bisected by invisible borderlines, back and forth across which the author blithely hops, with an eye, an ear and a tongue for telling detail. The text is studded with accounts of memorable conversations and encounters with a garrulous cabbie, a Michelin star chef, street musicians, winos, lawyers, bankers, politicians, and a hooker, with cameo appearances by Henry Kissinger and the ghost of Marlene Dietrich.

And when spring erupts and Berlin finally bursts out of hibernation, Wortsman’s scintillating account of the celebration of the urban impulse is punctuated by, among other phenomena, trees shedding pods that look like snow, a bungee jumper leaping from the roof of a hotel, youth amassed to block a neo-Nazi march, and the first ever sighting of Siamese twin ladybugs.
--This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00B3M48MK
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Travelers' Tales (January 15, 2013)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 15, 2013
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1268 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 210 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 14 ratings

About the author

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Dubbed a "20th-century Brother Grimm" (Bloomsbury Review) and "a delinquent Hans Christian Andersen" (by playwright Mark O'Donnell), Peter Wortsman was saluted by the late Hubert Selby, Jr. (author of Last Exit to Brooklyn) as "an excellent artist...Wortsman [succeeds] so well in his craft and art that it reads 'artless' and 'spontaneous,' which to me is the highest of compliments." The Boston Phoenix wrote: "Wortsman hangs with the masters."

He is the author of two books of short fiction, A Modern Way to Die (Fromm Int'l, 1991) and Footprints in Wet Cement (Pelekinesis, 2017); a novel, Cold Earth Wanderers (Pelekenesis, 2014); a limited edition artists' book, it-t=i, produced in collaboration with his brother, artist Harold Wortsman, comprising his prose poetry and his brother's etchings (here and now press, 2004), in several major collections, including The Library of Congress, and a travel memoir, Ghost Dance in Berlin, A Rhapsody in Gray (Travelers' Tales, 2013). His anthology, Tales of the German Imagination, From the Brothers Grimm to Ingeborg Bachmann, which he compiled, edited and translated, was published by Penguin classics in 2013. He has also written two stage plays, The Tattooed Man Tells All, 2000, and Burning Words, 2004. The latter play was premiered by the Hampshire Shakespeare Company at the Northampton Center for the Arts, in Northampton, Mass., in 2006, and premiered,in German translation, at the Kulturhaus Osterfeld, in Pforzheim, Germany, in 2014.

His many English translations from the German include: Posthumous Papers of a Living Author, by Robert Musil, now in its third edition (Eridanos, 1987, Penguin 20th-Century Classics, 1995; Archipelago Books, 2006); Peter Schlemiel, by Adelbert von Chamisso (Fromm Int'l, 1993); Telegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose of Peter Altenberg (Archipelago, 2007); Travel Pictures, by Heinrich Heine (Archipelago, 2008); Selected Prose of Heinrich von Kleist (Archipelago, 2010); Selected Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Archipelago, 2013); The Creator, by Mynona, aka Salomo Friedlaender (Wakefield Press, 2014); and Konundrum, Selected Prose of Franz Kafka (Archipelago Books, 2016).

Also a travel writer, his work has appeared in major newspapers, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, as well as magazines and websites, and was selected five years in a row for The Best Travel Writing, 2008-2012 and again in 2016. New Word City issued two short eBooks of his travel writing, The Urban Nomad - Paris, and The Urban Nomad - Vienna.

His essays have appeared, in German translation, in Die Welt, Die Zeit, The Atlantic Times, and Cicero, Magazin für Politische Kultur.

His prose poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including The Best of the Prose Poem: An International Journal, Providence, RI, and White Pine Press, Buffalo, NY, 2000; 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11, New York University Press, NY, 2002; The House of Your Dream: An International Collection of Prose Poetry, White Pine Press, Buffalo, NY 2008; and Short, An International Anthology, Persea Books, NY 2014.

He was the recipient of the 1985 Beard's Fund Short Story Award and the 2008 Gertje Potash-Suhr Prose Prize of the Society for Contemporary American Literature in German. A former Fellow of the Fulbright (1973) and Thomas J. Watson (1974) Foundations, he was the Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in Spring 2010.

His travel memoir "Ghost Dance in Berlin, A Rhapsody in Gray" was short-listed for a 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award and won a 2014 Silver Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY) in the "travel essay" category. Wortsman's novel "Cold Earth Wanderers" was selected as a finalist in Foreword Reviews' 2015 INDIEFAB Best Fantasy/Science Fiction Book Competition.

Customer reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Ghost dance, Brilliant
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