Posts Tagged ‘Harald Hauswald


Events in Berlin, 2011

If among your New Year’s resolutions there is indeed a trip to Berlin, don’t forget that the Berlinale starts on February 10th…it may be cold, but the Berlinale will warm you up!

On this page you will find a list of good reasons for coming to Berlin: art, music, exhibitions, fashion, sport, culture…you name it. Continue reading ‘Events in Berlin, 2011’


the summer books!

RIMG0004One of the pages with most traffic on this blog is the Bookshelf in Berlin. Thanks to this page, online (and offline) friendships started, in Rome and Berlin.

So it’s time to put a bit in order that page and update it with the latest arrivals on our bookshelf. Let’s try to summarize…

I bought at Chatwin’s “U5” by Pol Sax. If you are recovering your German language skills, it can be helpful as there is more introspection than plot intricacies. Three characters (an artist which has some success, a prostitute, a former artist now in need of psychiatric professional help) show us their thoughts while they live their lives in Friedrichshain, along the U5 line precisely.


At Tegel airport I bought Sven Regener’s “Berlin blues”. It is enjoyable, to some extent I started to confuse the characters (I was still reading Pol Sax) since also in this book the quirky and borderline are very close. But it is definitely enjoyable, especially the bits in which tapes full of House music constantly risk to end up in the bin of the pub. “He says this will be the music of tomorrow!”. It was the summer 1989. The English translation I read seems really good to me, but I should read the German original version to be sure about it…and get an insight on the 80s slang.


Get this bande dessinée, if you want to get some insight on how kids in 1989 lived the fall of the Berlin wall. It is witzig, light, ironic, and yes, you may have spotted Flix strips in a Berlin’s newspaper. I found it at the fantastic Bayerischer Platz Buchladen, my local.


At Nollendorfplatz I bought Alexanderplatz. I am already a fan of Harald Hauswald’s photos of East Berlin so this book was a safe bet. It is a photographic book, very useful for playing one of my favourite Berlin games “how was it before/how is it now?”.


At the KaDeWe bookstore – which happens to be pas mal du tout – I couldn’t resist in buying Berliner Plätze, after spending an hour or so on the bookstore’s red sofas while browsing the book.

Taking the game “Berlin yesterday/today” a century back, with this gorgeous book you can understand what kind of metropolis Berlin was in the 20s…The square pictured on the cover is Viktoria-Luise Platz, which happens to be like this also today. The grim, concrete-clad Bayerischer Platz in our neighborhood was a true beauty once. Fabulous book for architecture lovers.


This one is only for Berlin fanatics…taking the game even deeper, and digging out the history of the Schoeneberg neighborhood. I agree, it’s so specialized, but how can you resist if you find it at the Flohmarkt for Eur 2?


Wow, a book in Italian, German, French. You may recognize the cover…but it is not Imgard Keun’s “The artificial silk girl”. It’s a catalogue, bought at Remainders in Rome, about Berlin’s fashion industry in the 30s. Berlin fashion shared the same grim fate of Bayerischer Platz buildings and the Bauhaus school – annihilation –  since it had a strong contribution by the Jewish Berlin entrepreneurs. The book is fabulous for the quality of fashion photography and the architectural aesthetic: the city, the modern city, was the set.

This is an investment. The Bauhaus exhibition catalogue…solemnly acquired at the Martin-Gropius Bau . Of course I saw the exhibition…but I want the pleasure to last, and that’s why I started reading the catalogue but I will keep the most part of it for the rainy-windy-stormy-icy days in Berlin this winter. 80 years! But there had been an impressive exhibition in 1977….


…I discovered it because I found at the Rathaus Schoeneberg Flohmarkt this fabulous book, the catalogue of the exhibition. It was interesting to compare how catalogues have evolved in the past 30 years, and on very similar themes. Today’s bauhaus catalogue is more graphic and inviting, the 1977 oeuvre is definitely very academic. But extremely complete and thorough.


My friend in Moabit, who enjoyed Alessandra Montrucchio’s “Berlino”, advised me to get its French mirror image, Cecile Calla’s “Tour de Franz”. It is definitely enjoyable and is a good insight on conversational German, with a Berlinisch flavour. Sometimes there’s too much Paris in this book (the cooking, the lingerie, the aperos) and you may wonder if the book’s title “mein Rendez-vous mit den Deutschen” should rather be “my convinction that French do it better, whatever it is”. But the chapters “spiessig”, “Sex”, Tatort” and “Mann” are good fun. By the way, I bought this book at a nice local bookstore, just off Crellestrasse in Schoeneberg. Check it out, it’s called Mackensen.


Another French fascinated by Germany, Michel Tournier. I bought the book at Palais Sans Souci, in Potsdam…so the title sounded quite appropriate, in the middle of the Prussian vineyards and Mediterrenean fig trees. Almost a pamphlet, it is a bijou and not to be missed. En français uniquement.


Another book, another advice from a friend, C. from Geneva. Its structure is interesting and it makes an interesting companion during travels for business or pleasure. But when it comes to history, I prefer books such as Maier’s “The Fall” or Weitz’s “Weimar, utopia and tragedy”. The social and economic side of history is the one I am interested in, and in vol d’oiseau books it does not get enough coverage.


In the same bookstore off Crellestrasse I also treated myself to a new Kaminer. But I am still in the middle of it…so I’ll let you know!

And now I’ll close with two masterpieces, quite obvious, but hey, I read them this summer…

The Cold War masterpiece, IanMcEwan’s “The Innocent”. I must confess that when I bought the book at Tegel airport I hd not realized immediately that I already had this book. Fortunately, because my copy of the Italian translation “Lettere a Berlino” was in Rome, with a bookmark stuck at 1/3 of the book. Here it goes, another “double book” I told myself…but eventually I started reading the original version and got totally captured. The beauty of the language, the differences in Glass’s American English and Marham’s stuttered English from Tottenham is quintessential to the pleasure of the intricated plot. And moreover…we have been to Altglienicke! (and everybody flying Easijet has been to Rudow, right?).


The 30s masterpiece is “Goodbye Berlin”. I bought it by night at Dussman, during Die Lange Nacht der Museen, the Berlin version of Notte bianca. I love Christopher Isherwood! His social portraits are as sharp as Imgard Keun’s, but with a British irony which rubs off the hyperrealistic decadence of Alfred Döblin’s friend.

It was my goodbye book to Berlin…a somewhat cooler weather had arrived that night and the following day I packed my luggage, taking with me Kaminer for fighting that dash of sadness with Schonhauser Allee nonsensical humor.

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