Dienstag, 27. Januar 2009

Measuring Billy Joel

The first time I came across an article dismissing Billy Joel I was just surprised. Now it happened again, and I must say I'm still surprised. I know that Billy Joel has pretensions to be more than a pop singer and I also find his attempts to be a socially critical chronicler of his age a bit ridiculous ("We didn't start the fire", anyone?), but does this really make him the "Worst Pop Singer Ever"? There are certainly much, much worse pop singers out there. Well, maybe I'm just angry because I really like "Piano Man" and "Always a Woman". But who cares whether "Always a Woman" echoes Dylan? We definitely could need more singers copying themes (and schemes) from Bob.

Mittwoch, 7. Januar 2009

Die Vermessenheit der Vermessung (A note on Kehlmann "Measuring the World")

Ein weiteres Weihnachtsgeschenk war Daniel Kehlmanns "Die Vermessung der Welt". Es gibt dazu genug im Internet (z. B. diese Besprechung und dieses Interview), also nur eine kurze Bemerkung - das Buch lässt sich gut lesen und ist intelligent geschrieben, aber es ist mit Vorsicht zu geniessen, da es historisch falsche Behauptungen enthält und die Hauptprotagonisten - Gauß und Alexander v. Humboldt - zu Karikaturen verzerrt.

If you come across Daniel Kehlmann's "Measuring the world" (I got it as a Christmas present), enjoy reading it, but if you're interested in Gauss or Humboldt, better read a biography - the characters are distorted to illustrate points about life, knowledge, and Germanness Kehlmann wants to make, and for that reason he also takes liberties with the facts.

Dienstag, 6. Januar 2009

Having read "The Reader"

I put the book on my Christmas wish list, and Santa acted accordingly. So now I know I was wrong as well - the real reason why Michael isn't able to build lasting relationships with women is simply that he cannot get over Hanna, even after he finds out what she has done. In the book, he not only doesn't turn down one-night stands, he even marries and has a daughter, but the marriage ends in divorce for the simple reason that his wife cannot compete with his memories of Hanna, a problem shared by all the girl friends he has afterwards. There is guilt and agonising, as well as phases of total emotional numbness, after Michael discovers Hanna's past, but the book is never as simple as "I can't have any woman any more because I slept with a Nazi". I cannot tell whether the film or its reviewer are guilty of this over-simplification, but it doesn't do justice to the book. In any case, I recommend reading it.