Friday, April 27, 2007

Goodbye to Berlin - post II (part one)

When you start reading this book you half start wondering where it is all leading to and it’s possible to view it as a little bit of a self indulgent semi-autobiographical collection of snippets over a three year stay in Berlin. But it is at the very end you realise that everything he has seen and enjoyed has started to disappear and is being wiped away by the Nazi’s. It is only in the last few pages you get a sense of the distress and anger and that ironically would have not been anywhere as powerful if the preceding chapters had not been so normal.

Bullet points between pages 79 – 138

Again it is simpler to break the highlights down into the respective chapters

On Ruegen Island (Summer 1931)
* Christopher decides to spend some time in the Baltic and is based with a fellow Englishman Peter who is a nervous wreck, who is really trying to struggle with his homosexuality, and has set up with a German man named Otto

* Otto exploits Peter’s dependency on him and is clearly only interested for the money and flirts with both Peter and women he meets in the local dancehall and as a result of the tension life is made difficult for Christopher

* Ultimately Otto disappears back to Berlin having stolen clothes and money from Peter while Christopher and the Englishman were out in a boat and that also leads to Peter cutting his stay short and heading back to England

The Nowaks
* Back in Berlin and down on his luck Christopher goes to visit Otto and his family and ends up renting a room from them in a very poor and run down part of the City which introduces him to a different set of characters

* Otto’s mother is ill and his father a drunkard but it is his brother Lothar who is the first introduction to the Nazi’s with the quiet and determined young man visiting the party most nights

* As her illness gets worse Otto’s mother has to go to a sanatorium and despite the fact that Otto shows no interest in anything other than sponging off the men and women he has relationships with he finally betrays a genuine human side when he has to wave goodbye to his mother at the hospital

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