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on 29 July 2002
A collection of superb stories by Heinrich Boll, the Nobel Prize winner, set in pre-war, wartime and post-war "Wirtschaftswunder" Germany. The stories include "Damals in Odessa", "Die Ungezahlte Geliebte" and "Es Muss Etwas Geschehen" among others, some very humorous, others tragic, all extremely moving and excellent observations of Germany during the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Boll is not afraid to point out the weaknesses and flaws of the "miracle" economy; he does not sympathize with the authorities of any decade but with each individual as a human being. His characteristic emphasis on the "Menschlichkeit" or humanity of people, regardless of their position or status, comes through the stories in this collection very clearly.
The actual language in the stories is accessible (I read it at Higher)and the length of the stories make it ideal for those who are needing to gain confidence but, equally, this should not deter more advanced German speakers from reading this magnificent collection.
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on 8 January 2013
I purchased this on Amazon because it was one I had read some years ago for a German exam and really loved it. Boll movingly describes the agonies of Germany post World War II, when food was a major focus for a whole population, actually and metaphorically. An amazing novel.
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on 20 April 2013
I think whether or not you will like this book depends on what you expect from it. I have just finished it, and read it to help revive my German. If this is your aim, then it's a good choice, since it's short, and the language is challenging enough without being so difficult as to make reading the book a chore.

It's divided into 4 chapters, with the second by far the longest. The action takes place during a single day in the main character's life. The opening chapter begins "Der Tag, an dem Hedwig kam, war ein Montag", while the closing chapter commences "Es war dunkel, und immer noch Montag". Walter, the protagonist, awakes to a letter from his father, reminding him to collect a young girl from the station and beseeching him to take care of her. A reasonable chunk of the narrative is then in flashback, after which point the action moves forward as he travels to the station. Having been disinterested in, and even mildly irritated by, his errand, he instantly becomes obsessed with the girl. He stations himself outside her door for a lengthy period, during which time many significant facts about his life are revealed in flashback, through his innermost thoughts and a conversation with his boss's son, Wolf. The story then moves forward again, but relies again on flashback during a conversation with Wolf's sister.

The decision to collect the girl has an enormous impact on his life and is likened to a train he caught when he could easily have taken another. The plot of the novella, if indeed the word "plot" should be used, is very slight. The book's impact relies on the themes and ideas behind it. So if you are a lover of fine literature I'm sure you would find a lot in this book. But if you're simply after a good story you should perhaps look elsewhere. I could be said to have missed the point of it, but still appreciated the vivid imagery as well as the clever analogies. I also found that the sparse and direct prose evoked the horrors of war time and post war Germany more effectively than floral language, and as such passages of text continue to haunt me.
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on 26 August 2013
I was attempting to buy Dr Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen, which appeared on the same page, in order to read it with a pupil. It appeared to be available in used paperback, at an astonishing variety of prices, but every time I thought I had isolated it to try and buy, the Kindle version came up; I do not have or want to have a Kindle. I eventually thought I had succeeded in buying the book I wanted, and realised when the order confirmation came through that it was the wrong book altogether, by which time I simply could not be bothered to do anything about it. Somewhat fed up, and will re-plan my teaching material.
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on 12 February 2013
The product description is about a collection of short stories and lists the titles of some of the others in the collection. However, the Kindle edition consists only of the single story "Dr Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen". A great story but probably not worth £2.39 when full length novels are available for 20p and anyway the product described should be the product you get - as beef lasagne manufacturers will tell you.
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on 21 May 2011
I read this book again this year, some 35+ years after reading it as part of our German A level course under Chris Ashby at Sinjuns. Ashby was probably the most effective teacher I had at school, not one of those you could laugh and joke with, but somone who very seriously got on with the job of language teaching. I am sure it was the two terms we spent under Ashby in '73/74 that gave me enough to scrape a pass at A level, as the final terms of sixth form were spent in a Floyd-inspired common room haze of card playing and drinking. I suppose I will never be able to thank Chris Ashby personally, but if somewhere out on the great www I can leave these few words to say thanks then that will have to do. As for the book, well such was Ashby's teaching ability that he even made what on the face of it is a pretty dour tale come alive with colour and imagery. It was my introduction to Böll, who I later read in far greater depth at university. I suppose it is up there amoingst my favourite books, as we live this day in the life of the protagonist which will it seems change him forever, this day which will leave the old world behind and the hope of a better one begins, this day when Germany begins to arise from the ashes of its cruel past and starts the journey into a brighter future. Have we not all at some stage wished that a Hedwig were out there taking us into a new exciting uncertain future?
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on 24 September 2012
Excellent quality and price. Very prompt delivery. My son is a Kosinski fan and this is for his birthday. I think he'll enjoy it---I'm having a sneak read before I hand it over! Kosinski books are really hard to find , and usually rather expensive, so I was delighted to find this one.
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