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Extra resources for New York Review of Books (9 June 2016)

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Walser beautifully captures the innocent self-absorption of the world of a child. Johann’s myopic focus is rich with detail and truth; invisible events that, as readers from the future, we cannot help but knowing are terrifying. But year after year, Johann’s oblivion to everything but what immediately, intimately concerns him continues. And it is 1945. And Johann is not a child. He has grown into an eighteen-yearold soldier of the Reich returning to his village. But, and this is a weakness that undermines the force of the book, Johann has not grown as a character, he has shrunk into a near cliché of Alpine aestheticism and Romantic egotism.

Behind bars the surreal Ukrainian revolution, but readbecomes unavoidable: “Black ers of Schlögel and PieniąĪek will get something like the everyis white and white is black,” as day grit and political insight of Pomerantsev paraphrases the Homage to Catalonia. PieniąĪek businesswoman. “There is no rerisked his life to see what he saw, ality. Whatever they say is realas did other brave and talented ity. ” Western journalists. Along the Although Pomerantsev preway, perhaps, he benefited from sents such stories as an element the seemingly innocuous nature of a postmodern world, a more of his work.

When Dumb August, the circus clown, is savagely beaten after making jokes about Hitler in a performance, Johann feels sorry for him, but their teacher tells them the clown is an enemy of the German people, and when he and his brother wonder if the SS did it, their horrified mother begins to cry: Mother said it was all she could take that Father had nothing but trouble with the new people and they had almost lost everything. Wasn’t that enough? Couldn’t they be quiet now? Hadn’t the family been in enough trouble already?

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