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"Faserland" by Christian Kracht


What do you think about Hamburg? Frankfurt? Heidelberg? The Boden Lake? You must recall sightseeing places of these ancient German regions, Fachwerk buildings, museums, don’t you? The hero of Faserland by Kracht travels across many Western lands of the country, but you will find no tourist attractions there.

Vice versa, you’ve got to find dens and bars, lumps of drugs and alcohol, golden youth and homosexuals. It is the same in every town, slightly modified by the landscape. This is no Fatherland, but Faserland, Land of Fibers throughout all Germany, which unite its inhabitants by some other ties than those we know about.

 

And what do we know? That Frankfurt is the birthplace of Goethe and Heidelberg is famous for the old university? That Hamburg used to be a free city and belong to Hansa? That Southern Germany used to be Catholic as opposed to the Protestant North? Wake up! exclaims the author. Such view is long obsolete. We will never conceive the modern civilization by studying monuments of the past alone. The present of the country is not there, but in the people who live there and whose life has little to do with tour guide clichés.

 

Paradox is that nobody studies the present life as it is not interesting. The hero pays attention to it only when he is abroad, in Switzerland, from where Germany looks like a machine for the selected who do the same as all the world but “can live only by the belief that they do it a bit better, a bit harder, a bit more stylish”. This is no big secret either, but believe me, once you read the book, Germany will open the other side to you. Maybe not only Germany.

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