Monday, August 11, 2008

Book Review: The Invention of Curried Sausage

How to describe this book? It's not a cookbook. It is history, but it's more about the end of World War II than curry or sausage. Here's the search terms from Amazon:

Key Phrases: equestrian badge, curried sausage, squirrel coat, Lena Brucker, Adolf Hitler

And yes, those are good search terms for the book. The story, told by Uwe Timm, is a surprising combination of these diverse elements. It opens a window on civilian life as Germany transitioned from wartime to post-wartime. I can quibble with the plot's depiction of marriage, or telling the truth, or a number of different things, but it's not really about that: it's about being in a country that's falling apart and what it takes to start to put things back together.

For all the war, and dark subject matter in general, this really is a surprisingly light book. The Holocaust is mentioned in a few particularly stirring pages but mostly separated from the story itself. It's also a fast read with plenty of white space, yet still it took me more than a week to complete. It was a surprise nominee for a 100 Best Books list, and while it probably isn't on my 100 Best Books list, I can understand it being at least on the 100 Good Books List.

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