Ultimately a very powerful piece of writing, and one against which all others in the genre need to be measured. A biographical novel with this introductory disclaimer "Anyone believing that he detects a similarity between a character in the narrative and either himself or anyone else should consider the strange lack of individuality in the behaviour of many contemporaries. Generally recognisable behaviour patterns should be blamed on circumstances."
It is not an easy journey, far from it. The language is complex, and the imagery used in the course of a significant and obviously cathartic self-evaluation can sometimes require several re-readings. The text does though become more accessible as the chapters progress, thanks to a more intimate understanding of the character Nelly - Wolf's childhood persona. We are spectators to her torment in her search for meaning, the raging conflict which inhabits her, and more simply, the quickening and increasing of personal experiences as the war came home and the flight into darkness and self-doubt begins. Just how could a childhood world once so stable and so normal be suddenly exposed as an utter lie?
A book requiring time, much time, to absorb and reflect upon the self-analysis which inhabits every line.
A forty-six hour journey; an attempt to discover and exorcise by naming them, the ghosts of the past in her home town of Landsberg. A journey with her younger brother who was confidant, sounding board and witness to events; her husband whose experiences were sometimes paralleled; and her young daughter.
A road-trip. Landsberg, now Gorzow Wielkopolski, is today a rather grubby town with only a few reminders of its heritage. Like much of once was the Eastern Bloc, the Communist system did it few favours, and graffiti covers many walls. A place which harbours many ghosts.
This text is nothing short of remarkable.