9780151007646

Crabwalk

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780151007646

  • ISBN10:

    0151007640

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2003-04-01
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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Summary

Gnter Grass has been wrestling with Germany's past for decades now, but no book since The Tin Drum has generated as much excitement as this engrossing account of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. A German cruise ship turned refugee carrier, it was attacked by a Soviet submarine in January 1945. Some 9,000 people went down in the Baltic Sea, making it the deadliest maritime disaster of all time. Born to an unwed mother on a lifeboat the night of the attack, Paul Pokriefke is a middle-aged journalist trying to piece together the tragic events. While his mother sees her whole existence in terms of that calamitous moment, Paul wishes their life could have been less touched by the past. For his teenage son, who dabbles in the dark, far-right corners of the Internet, the Gustloff embodies the denial of Germany's wartime suffering. "Scuttling backward to move forward," Crabwalk is at once a captivating tale of a tragedy at sea and a fearless examination of the ways different generations of Germans now view their past.Winner of the Nobel Prize

Author Biography

Born in Danzig, Germany, in 1927, Gnnter Grass is the widely acclaimed author of plays, essays, poems, and numerous novels. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

Excerpts

1"WHY ONLY NOW?" HE SAYS, this person not to be confused with me. Well, because Mother's incessant nagging...Because I wanted to cry the way I did at the time, when the cry spread across the water, but couldn't anymore...Because for the true story...hardly more than three lines...Because only now...The words still don't come easily. This person, who doesn't like excuses, reminds me that I'm a professional: had a way with words at a young age, signed on as a cub reporter with one of the Springer tabloids, soon had the lingo down pat, then switched over to the Tageszeitung, where Springer was the favorite whipping boy, later kept it short and sweet as a mercenary for various news agencies, and eventually freelanced for a while, chopping and shredding all sorts of subjects to be served up as articles: something new every day. The news of the day.True enough, I said. But that's about all I know how to do. If I really have to settle my own historical accounts now, everything I messed up is going to be ascribed to the sinking of a ship. Why? Because Mother was nine months pregnant when it happened, because it's sheer coincidence that I'm alive.And already, again, I'm doing someone else's bidding, but at least I can leave myself out of it for the time being, because this story began long before me, more than a hundred years ago, in Schwerin, the ducal seat of Mecklenburg, nestled amid seven lakes, priding itself on postcards of its Schelfstadt district and a castle bristling with turrets, and outwardly left unharmed by the wars.Initially I didn't think a provincial burg that history had crossed off long ago could attract anyone besides tourists, but then the starting place for my story suddenly acquired a presence on the Internet. An anonymous source was posting biographical information, complete with dates, street names, and report cards, a treasure trove for someone like me who was under pressure to dig up the past.I'd bought myself a Mac, with a modem, as soon as these things came on the market. For my work I need to be able to snare information wherever it may be wandering around the world. I got pretty good at using the computer. Soon terms like browser and hyperlink were no longer Chinese to me. With a click of the mouse I could haul in stuff that I might use or might end up throwing in the trash. Soon, out of idleness or inclination, I began flitting from chat room to chat room, also responded to the most idiotic spam, checked out a couple of porno sites, and after some aimless surfing finally landed on sites where old unregenerates but also freshly minted neo-Nazis were venting their venom on hate pages. And suddenly-entering the name of a ship as a keyword-I clicked my way to the right address: www.blutzeuge.de. In Gothic script the "Comrades of Schwerin" were strutting their stuff. Something about a martyr. Dredging up the past. More ludicrous than disgusting.In the meantime it's become clear which martyr is meant and what he's s

Excerpted from Crabwalk by GŁnter Grass, Gunter Grass
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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