"Lost in Deutschland" vorher

Dieses Blog begann auf Deutsch - im Archiv befinden sich eine ganze Reihe von Texten über das Engländersein in Deutschland - von 2008 bis 2011 sortiert. 2008-2009 wurden zudem Video-Berichterstattungen auf Deutsch zum Thema hier veröffentlicht.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Greg Baxter gets Lost in Deutschland

Well, the better title would be "stuck". In Greg Baxter's novel Munich Airport, the narrator and his father find themselves stuck at the eponymous airport at the tail end of a macabre mission: identifying and repatriating the starved body of their anorexic sister and daughter respectively.

In my anthology of writing about or set in Germany, Beyond the Enchanted Forest, the last chapter documented the resurgence of creative literature set in Germany due to the bustling millennial Berlin émigré scene. Greg Baxter, an American who has swapped Dublin for Berlin, has produced a novel which is an example of how some of the most creative and exciting English-language fiction is currently happening outside of English-speaking countries - and don't be fooled by the title, this book is not about Munich Airport.

The airport is simply the bare, stripped-down, utilitarian backdrop against which Baxter's narrator examines his life in a whole lot of other places: the Deep South, then London, and most recently, a few weeks in Berlin; the Rhineland and the Ardennes also put in brief cameos. In the framework of the book, Berlin appears as a kind of refuge for misfits and sufferers of physical-psychological trauma: the narrator's anorexic sister, a deeply scarred one-night stand, and an Afghanistan veteran with a near-estranged husband. Of all of the places depicted (including the sterile airport, amorally carnivorous London, and the smelly swamps of the Gulf of Mexico), it is in fact the one that seems least charming and least human - and the most dangerous.

Baxter's novel is worth reading for these evocations of place alone; and although the taut style, lack of genuine action, and unusual punctuation will not be to everyone's taste, the book's mesmeric horror can end up unfolding a kind of hypnosis over readers willing to dive in - indeed, with no division into chapters and expert pacing, this state is - once induced - hard to shake off.