Adolf Hitler, Rip van Winkle style, wakes up in Berlin in 2011. Still dressed in his uniform and instantly recognisable, he is assumed to be a comedian on the satire circuit: he soon gets a TV show and a huge You Tube following. But he plans to revive his political career.
As a book, this plot enables the writer to make lots of 'man from Mars' style observations about modern German culture. This, for me, was a major part of the humour of the book (regular readers of this blog will know I am not an aficionado of 'funny' books).
It is more difficult to discern a structure to the plot. Initially I thought I could see a classic four-part structure. He is 'discovered' one-seventh of the way through and his first 'comedy' rant is 40% of the way through, so close to the classic half-way turning-point. He receives hate mail just over half the way through, which suggests a possible serious turn, again appropriate as a turning point. But after that I felt that things meandered and the 'not with a bang but a whimper' ending felt as if the author had run out of ideas, or was positioning himself towards a sequel.
There were, however, some funny bits, one or two of which make me chuckle out loud.
Some of the best bits include:
- "We all know ... what to make of our newspapers. The deaf man writes down what the blind man has told him, the village idiot edits it" (Ch 3)
- "Political parties existed again, with all the infantile, counter-productive squabbling this entails." (Ch 3)
- "I had also noticed the occasional passer-by whose Aryan ancestry was questionable, to put it mildly, and not only four or five generations back, but right up to the last quarter of an hour." (Ch 5)
- "I detected barely any correct syntax; it sounded more like a linguistic tangle of barbed wire, furrowed with mental grenades like the battlefields of the Somme." (Ch 11)
- "As far as I can make out press photographers seem to wear the ragged cast-offs of television cameramen." (Ch 17)
- "They shrieked with laughter and tried to say something, but a lack of consonants rendered their babble unintelligible." (Ch 31)
- "Some of these young pupil-like characters wore expressions of such intellectual frugality that one could scarcely imagine what useful activity they might one day be able to perform for society." (Ch 11)
March 2021; 365 pages
|This review was written by|
the author of Motherdarling