My century

by G端nter Grass

Paper Book, 1999

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Harcourt, c1999.

Description

One hundred stories, each named after a year this century. In one, Erich Maria Remarque gives his views on World War I, in another former Nazis reflect on the good old days, while a third is on the fall of the Berlin Wall from a dead woman's point of view.

User reviews

LibraryThing member thorold
The proper time to read this would have been in 1999. Still, even now that all the excitement of "Y2K" is long behind us, this is an interesting exercise. A hundred very short stories, all between about 750 and 1000 words, one for each year of the 20th century (except that he includes 1900 and misses out 2000, but he's a writer and artist, not a mathematician...). The stories are all in the first person: in five or six of them the narrator seems to be Grass himself, the rest are told by witnesses, famous or obscure, to the great and small events of German history. There are some very clever and unexpected viewpoints — the account of the first world war through a series of linked stories describing an imaginary meeting between Erich Maria Remarque and Ernst Jünger in Zürich, for instance, or the self-mocking account of the publication of Die Blechtrommel and Billard um Halbzehn in 1959 as though they were industrial products of the Wirtschaftswunder — but also some rather predictable ones, like the description of rubble-clearing by a "Berliner Trümmerfrau". I lost interest a bit in the sixties, where there is a whole string of stories involving Celan and Heidegger; the nineties, too are a bit of a dull stretch. There's not that much that Grass can say about reunification, the Gulf War, nuclear energy or pollution damage to trees that he hasn't already said many times elsewhere... The last story, though it also rehashes rather familiar material, is an effective way to end the collection.… (more)
LibraryThing member lriley
A book of short-short stories by the German Nobelist Gunter Grass--one story for each year of the 20th century. Like anything Grass writes they are well written. More or less a chronological fictional telling of the history of Germany in the 20th century through a series of snapshots. Of particular note for me were those concerning the first world war years 1914-1918 in which the German novelists Remarque and Junger remark on their war experiences to a much younger female interviewer many years later. Then the years leading up to the second world war and the years following. The 1960's and the student demonstrations and the rise of the Baader-Meinhof gang followed in the 80's by the fall of the wall and the East German communist regime. This probably is not one of Grass's major works but it is good work and easier to follow than some of Grass's longer and more difficult fiction. For someone who hasn't read Grass it would not be a bad choice to start out with.… (more)
LibraryThing member eairo
My Century is the history of the 20th century told by Günter Grass. One hundred little stories, one for each year of the century. The point of view is often that of a German individual: the author's relatives, the author himself and various other writers, his and others' fictional characters have their say as well as many many unnamed citizen from very different social classes and backgrounds.

I can understand--though I have only read one other book by Grass--that this is not considered as one his best works. But it is still a good read. This is history through German eyes, but it is still universal and generally human enough to be interesting to anyone. Whatever really important happened during that century is there, and only few times it happened that a story left me cold, not knowing anything about the subject of the story in question.

But, there is a but... Like said by the author's mother (dead by then) in the last 'year' of the book: "...now I should tell you all what it was like in the old days and even before that. And what else would it have been but war, war all over and then again with just a little break in between." It truly was. The first half of the century was like preparation for the big one and then the next thirty or so years were spent trying to recover from it all; trying to figure out what on earth happened and what should we do about it. And that is a good question any time.
… (more)
LibraryThing member michaelbartley
the book is a collection of short stories that are really essays each story highlights a year, from 1900 to 1999. the stories show how history in this case german history has a direct effect on people.
LibraryThing member freelancer_frank
This is a book about the individual in and through time. It is a staggering technical achievement. Each year is represented as a beautiful Flash piece, with an authentic voice, layered themes, a pertinent subject (such as technology, social events, politics, sport) and a strong story. The cumulative impact of the approach is to demonstrate time both from the perspective of the situated individual and the omniscient god simultaneously. As time passes, the nature of this book changes. Reading it will differ depending on when it is read and on when the reader was born. An extraordinary work of art.… (more)

Language

Original language

German
Page: 0.2622 seconds