I've always felt that the traditional novel doesn't give you enough information about the narrator, and I think it's important to know the point of view from which these tales are told: the moral makeup of the teller.
The moral backbone of literature is about that whole question of memory. To my mind it seems clear that those who have no memory have the much greater chance to lead happy lives.
It is a sore point, because you do have advantages if you have access to more than one language. You also have problems, because on bad days you don't trust yourself, either in your first or your second language, and so you feel like a complete halfwit.
Where I grew up, in a remote village at the back of a valley, the old still thought the dead needed attending to - a notion so universal, it's enscribed in all religions. If you didn't, they might exact revenge upon the living.
People's ability to forget what they do not want to know, to overlook what is before their eyes, was seldom put to the test better than in Germany at that time.
Places seem to me to have some kind of memory, in that they activate memory in those who look at them.
Comparing oneself with one's fellow writers is a bad idea. I would not review a fellow writer unless I had something terribly positive to say.
I always read the translator's draft all the way through - a very laborious business.
In school I was in the dark room all the time, and I've always collected stray photographs; there's a great deal of memory in them.
To my mind, it seems clear that those who have no memory have the much greater chance to lead happy lives. But it is something you cannot possibly escape: your psychological make-up is such that you are inclined to look back over your shoulder.
A subject which at first glance seems quite removed from the undeclared concern of the book can encapsulate that concern.
Occasionally I write a small piece or the odd lecture in English, and I teach in English, but my fiction is always written in German.
Until I was 16 or 17, I had heard practically nothing about the history that preceded 1945. Only when we were 17 were we confronted with a documentary film of the opening of the Belsen camp.
I don't want to talk about my trials and tribulations. Once you reveal even part of what your real problems might be in life, they come back in a deformed way.
I was brought up largely by my grandfather because my father only returned from a prisoner-of-war camp in 1947 and worked in the nearest small town, so I hardly ever saw him.
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