Alexanderplatz has long survived as the symbol of a city burdened by its ruinous past. In 2012, twenty-year-old Jonny K. was beaten to death on this infamous Berlin square - and Germany's first multicultural murder brought another shock to a country that’s seen its share. Before the trial, the question of guilt already had an ideological slant: Was Alexanderplatz itself to blame? Was the socialist architecture? The brutality of capitalism?
Georg Diez pursues the mystery of Alexanderplatz in a narrative at once contentious and sincere. He portrays a city shaking free of the cultural pathos that defined it, even as its citizens wrestle with the legacies of Hitler and an East German regime that isolated the square before the Berlin Wall fell.
In imaginative prose, Diez describes a historical icon unleashed in modern Germany, fueled by unbridled enterprise and consumerism. Along the way, he takes the status quo to task and unveils a provocative view of the German capital in a troubled era.
I am an idiot and I bought this thinking it was Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, not Alexanderplatz, Berlin by Georg Diez. I was about a third of the way through when I realized my mistake. Diez actually references Döblin's book and he does not care for it.
This isn't really a story--just a novella-length essay about post-Nazi and post-Soviet Berlin. Frankly, Berlin doesn't hold much mystique for me. I've never been and it's not high on my list of places to go. So I'm probably not the right audience for the work. And there is one whole chapter where the author just starts listing brand names and then makes a comment about capitalism. After 3 minutes I wondered how much longer he could keep up the recitation of brands. It turns out for a total of around 10 minutes. If you do listen, save yourself some time and set it to double speed.
I was not a fan of this one.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Alexanderplatz, Berlin?
This is a description of a square in Berlin naming every business that is or was there. It made me realize all the name brands are there and I think the author regrets the city isn't more than it is or could have been. Doesn't make me want to visit--ever.
What do you think your next listen will be?
The girl on the Train
Which character – as performed by Christopher Lane – was your favorite?
This was not about characters unless you count Alexanderplatz a character.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Any additional comments?
I mistakenly thought there was a story involved.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about Alexanderplatz, Berlin?
This seems to be the theme of this monograph. It's dystopian, wonderfully opinionated and the translation bubbles along like water trhough rapids. The topic is Platz as a petri-dish. Once a thieves nest, it became, largely inert in the communist era, and now it is bursting with globalisation. In a slightly bizzare chapter, it obsessively lists all of the designer labels you might encounter there, the reader dealt with this change of rhythm admirably.
What other book might you compare Alexanderplatz, Berlin to, and why?
American Psycho - anomie miced up in an obsession with designer labels
Which scene did you most enjoy?
Not applicable, this is a behind the scenes sort of book