Today was mostly spent…in the house. Apart from my usual shop and the walk in the park for the poodles, that is. I spent a little longer in Starbucks because I was more than a little engrossed in my new book.
I’m presently reading a book called The Drinker by Hans Fallander. I heard about him while listening to Radio 4. He has an amazing style and is very readable. It’s the first fiction I’ve read for a long time and I’m enjoying it thoroughly.
It’s quite amazing that he managed to write anything, let alone something readable. You see, he was a womanising, drunken, drug taking lunatic. Even so, he is regarded as the greatest German novelist from between the wars.
He grew up in a loveless home with a strict disciplinarian for a father and a mother who always demurred to him. Poor Hans (his real name was Rudolf Ditzen) had a sad and lonely childhood and, in high school, went as far as agreeing a suicide pact with a mate. They agreed to shoot each other but Hans survived and was institutionalised. He was cleared of murder for reasons of insanity. This was not a good start in life.
He managed to come to terms with life by working on a farm – a simple, hardworking life that eased his mind and gave him a sense of belonging. But then WWI came along and he served in an administrative post in supplies. At the end of the war, he had no job (agriculture was failing in Germany) and a morphine addiction. He wandered from job to job but never settled down.
He spent a few more times in prison (for stealing to feed his habits, having started down the road to alcoholism as well) but then met a woman who agreed to marry him. He managed to settle down and was working as a journalist when a publisher made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. He would pay him twice as much as the newspaper he worked for to just sit and write whatever he wanted. The results of this was a world famous novel called Little Man, What now?
This book made him a fortune and he started writing furiously, churning out heaps of books. Between each of them he started drinking and taking drugs again as a sort of break from the frenetic activity. Eventually this led him back to various mental asylums and prisons.
Then Goebbels wanted him to write a propaganda novel for the Nazis. He refused and his work was subsequently banned in Germany and he was blacklisted. He spent time in a Nazi mental asylum and lost his wife and family. During his time in this asylum, he wrote The Drinker.
Finally released, he fell in with the Soviets and started drinking with the ones that occupied the town of Feldberg. They made him the mayor and they all partied very hard. He was once more institutionalised but for the last time. He died, alone in 1947.
He was clearly incredibly messed up but, boy could he write! If The Drinker is anything to go by, he was an amazing talent. And I’m pretty sure I’ll want to read more of his work after this one.
I did manage to tear myself away from the book in order to do some shopping before going home and fixing a few things and reorganising the laundry – you can now see the sink that’s in there! I’d forgotten.
Packing boxes in order to dump them at the storage facility is fantastic for clearing space!