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What's to Become of the Boy: Or, Something to Do with Books (European Classics) Paperback – April 8, 1996
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“Böll’s writing is filled with a bleak beauty that unflinchingly gazes upon the sources of both the bleakness and the beauty of life …” —The Rumpus
“What’s to Become of the Boy? makes an ideal short introduction to Böll. At the same time, it offers an unusual perspective on Hitler’s rise to power: The rise of totalitarianism and the stultification of civil society, as seen through the eyes of a teenage boy.” —Anne Applebaum (from the new introduction)
"[P]ared down prose, lean but sturdy, subtle yet unsettling, always with the power to provoke and to devastate."
—The Quarterly Conversation --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Top customer reviews
I wonder if I remembered so little of it because there's so little in it. Boll's memoir covers his last four or so years of formal schooling (equivalent to American high school). What comes across loud and clear is the poverty the Boll family endured during these years and their undying and uncompromised detestation of everything that the Nazis stood for. by the mid-1930s, the Nazi influence was increasingly felt in Cologne, Boll's hometown. As a student, Boll realized that his teachers, most of whom had served in WWI and brought a strong dose of nationalism into the classroom, were schooling their students in death, preparing them for the war that was coming. Boll resisted with everything he had. As he tells us, "The Nazis had become an eternity, the war was to become one, and war plus Nazis were a double eternity--yet I wanted to try to live beyond those four eternities" (p. 62).
An admirable ambition, especially in one so young. But the resistance to political and cultural entrapment stood Boll in good stead later on as a post-war writer.
For a book that purports to be a memoir, though, Boll seems oddly missing. His short memoir (a mere 80 pages) recounts exterior events and mentions in rather general terms interior responses, but one doesn't close the book with a sense that one's really gotten to know the man Boll. Perhaps this is because he believed he'd revealed himself adequately in his novels.
he memoir is