An edgy portrait of a successful wheeler-dealer on a downward slide, and a peek beneath the smug surface of life in modern-day Berlin
In the new unified Germany, Bernd Willenbrock is the perfect man for the season. A latecomer to the free-market feast, this former East German engineer has shown a downright Darwinian ability to adapt to the new environment. Proud owner of a thriving used-car dealership and an attractive second home, he is a generous husband, pleased by his role of provider. The business practically runs itself, leaving Willenbrock free to spice up his days with extramarital adventures. Prosperity seems guaranteed by a steady stream of cash-only clients from Eastern Europe, and plans for a glitzy new showroom are firmly under way.
Willenbrock's self-satisfaction appears impregnable. Yet little by little, a series of ever-more menacing incidents-an attempted break-in, the theft of several cars, a vicious beating-erode his innermost certainties. No amount of locks and latches, it seems, can contain his growing obsession with external safety, relieve his suspicion of those closest to him, or stop the coming violence.
In cool, detached prose, abundant with subtle ironies, Christoph Hein's portrait of a newly minted man of the West reveals a disturbing and all-too-familiar world where affluence comes at the price of lurking aggression, freedom is pervaded by insecurity, and contentment is undermined by mistrust.
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Christoph Hein, novelist, playwright, essayist, is among Europe's most respected literary and political voices. A former president of German PEN and author of the internationally acclaimed novels The Distant Lover and The Tango Player , he lives in Berlin.
An enterprising used-car salesman in post-Iron Curtain Berlin navigates the capitalist world of shady deals and armed robbery in this sharp, darkly humorous novel by East German novelist/playwright Hein (The Tango Player). Though German reunification brought an end to Bernd Willenbrock's 20-year engineering career in East Germany, he now presides, alongside his Polish assistant, Jurek, over an exceptionally profitable used-car business that's frequented mostly by Russians and Poles. Willenbrock provides well for his lovely boutique-owner wife, Susanne, yet he's still a ladies' man and has several ongoing dalliances with women who wander onto his lot and end up with much more than a good deal on a clunker. In the unsettled climate, a rash of thefts troubles Willenbrock, prompting him to hire a night watchman to guard the lot. A particularly traumatic robbery at the Willenbrock country home further erodes his sense of security, and paranoia sets in. While his plans to build a new showroom move ahead, the thieves from the break-in are apprehended, but then merely deported without punishment. This injustice pushes Willenbrock to take his Russian friend Krylov up on an offer to settle the matter privately as a "friendly favor," but in the end he thinks better of it and accepts a handgun instead. The tense climax tests his mettle and forces him to finally confront a long-held aversion to weapons and violence. Hein's expertly translated novel is brisk, clever and engrossing, and Willenbrock makes a compelling protagonist an uncomplicated man faced with all the opportunities and pitfalls of post-Wall Germany.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Descripción Metropolitan Books, 2003. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M0805067310
Descripción Metropolitan Books, 2003. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería DADAX0805067310