About Beat Mazenauer
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Name: Beat Mazenauer
[ book tip by Beat Mazenauer ] The short note prefacing the book should definitely be taken seriously: ‘The following stories are based on reality.’ Born in Leningrad, Vladimir Vertlib emigrated to Israel with his family when he was five. He has been living in Austria since 1981 and is a literary chronicler. Literature has no need to make up anything, the wildest stories have already occurred. Vertlib documents three such tales in this book. He subordinates himself to these real life stories and reshapes them as literature. Even if they resemble true reports, ‘many of the described events are imaginary or happened differently in reality’. Thus, in his texts, Vertlib strikes a balance between actual events and poetic compression, between gravity and irony, all at the same time.
At the beginning of the title story, the narrator is invited to meet his ‘first murderer’: in the heat of the moment, Leopold Ableitinger, 42, kills a dull little upstart who swears at him without reason. Yet this is depicted in such a fashion that it becomes an almost heart-warming event. It serves the arsehole right! Yet the narrator wants to know more, so Ableitinger begins to tell him about an earlier experience, something that happened to his father, after the Second World War...
Vladimir Vertlib has a discrete but persistent way of making his characters talk and of portraying them as cogs in the machinery of history. Written with apparent ease and in digestible chunks, on closer examination, his stories reveal a subtle dramatic composition and great linguistic ability. Horrors happen with a mean bluntness and ordinariness, the unhurt skin is thin, and at some point secrets seep through into consciousness.
The last of the three stories tells of the trials and tribulations of two friends who flee from Germany together in the early 1940s. They want to avoid military service but then end up in armies on different sides of the conflict. Both survive, despite experiencing all forms of deprivation. One, the painter Robert Hamminger, recounts his experiences to the narrator decades later with the ostensible composure of historical distance. This distance is what gives Vertlib’s story a lightness, though the heaviness of these memories is by no means lost. Over and over again, Vertlib’s biographical stories confront us with Europe’s ghastly history, with expulsion, war, and the systematic extermination of millions.
[ book info ] Vertlib, Vladimir: Mein erster Mörder.
(Book language: Deutsch)
Lecture in german
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