8 Dec 2013

Das sind nicht wir, das ist nur Glas (Zimmertheater Tübingen)

In between all the other things that are currently going on in my life, I managed to catch another one of the Zimmertheater's monologues, Das sind nicht wir, das ist nur Glas (roughly "This isn't us, it's only glass"), by Croation playwright Ivana Sajko. Since it's the tiniest of our professional theatres in town with an ensemble of five actors only, they regularly do a lot of one-man-plays and, thankfully one-woman-plays too, to offer more than ten plays in rep per season - extended runs not included.

Das sind nicht wir is a dystopian vision of a society after an economical breakdown of the worst kind. It's basically the Apocalypse and Black Friday rolled into one: first all wheat crops fail and then the rest of the global economy starts to disintegrate to disastrous effects. Unemployment soars, mortgages are left unpaid, the children go hungry and their parents despair.

Sajko sums up the reactions to this economic and social meltdown in a generational conflict that also comments on what a consumerist society hands on to the next generation. It follows the question of what actually happens when the only basis of such a society breaks away. What is left when we don't have the possibility to go shopping anymore? Together with their job, their bank accounts and eventually their homes the adults lose all their self-esteem and simply retreat into their self-loathing, leaving their hungry offspring largely to themselves. And the kids? They yearn for everything their parents can't buy them, for shoes big enough for their growing feet, for food to fill their stomachs, but also for sports clothes, mobile phones, cars. There's a deeper yearning for respect too, for exactly the self-esteem their parents let go, for a future that is simply a bit less shite than the past. Sajko's monologue is full of references to looking glasses, reflections in shop windows, photographs. However, it is less the glitzy images of the fashion world than the glamour of crime as embodied in Bonnie and Clyde's series of 1930s robberies. Sajko presents shoplifting as the only kind of uprising the younger generation is capable of, the smashing of windows is only a means to steal the designer goods behind them, not an emblem of the will to change something. This world is quite generally one that has completely forgotten about any kind of 'us' - it's split into the tiniest of social units and peopled by individuals who are no longer capable of connecting with other human beings apart from superficial admiration and meaningless sex.

Consisting mainly of dust and light - a favourite element of the Zimmertheater's set repertoire - the design of the play is as dreary as the world that is created in the monologue, which is superbly delivered by Nicole Schneider. Since monologues naturally stand and fall with the actor, the Zimmertheater can be glad that they've got exactly the right person to pull this off (as she did brilliantly as last year's Richard II in their version of Shakespeare's history for five people and too heavy scenery). The play itself is, however, slightly inconsistent in its imagery. At the beginning, it places quite a lot of emphasis on religious imagery, but veers away from this completely from about the middle onwards and leaves a loose end in this respect. With 65 minutes run time, the trick of discussing the end of society in the guise of a generational conflict starts to run out of steam with one generation not 'doing' much apart from lamenting and chain smoking. I had the feeling that it would have been possible to achieve more with less by trimming the script, but I can't quite put my finger on it.


On a rather personal note, I found this a play which I wouldn't have been able to bear a mere three weeks ago: the descend of people who become unemployed is one that just went too close to the bone for me. I've been unemployed since the beginning of October (no sympathy, please, I quit out of free will and already have another job lined up, so I'm great again, thanks) and for some 7 weeks I had no idea what to do with myself and where I wanted to go (and whether I would get any chance to decide at all). Plus I had the immense pleasure of communicating with the job centre and had to realise that this truly is an institution that seems to have as their goal the demoralising of already demoralised people. From one moment to the other, all skills and qualifications, all prospects and projects become totally meaningless because you committed the crime of becoming unemployed - of becoming one blip in the statistic that is taken for political success like almost no other in this country. From tax payer to nothing at the stroke of midnight. You see this play - and a lot of other things too - in a different light after this experience. I've not taken up chain smoking though.


Production details:
Das sind nicht wir, das ist nur Glas by Ivana Sajko, Zimmertheater Tübingen, Spielzeit 2013/2014 Director and design: Michael Hanisch
Nicole Schneider

Link to the Zimmertheater's website, including a video trailer: Das sind nicht wir, das ist nur Glas
Next performance: Jan 31, 2014
All photographs: (c) Alexander Gonschior

24 Nov 2013

Just add hot water...

... stir, and wait for five minutes. Then this will hopefully have turned into a blogpost. 

[Disclaimer: Blogger is not responsible for any damage caused by pouring hot water over technical equipment of any sort.]

No, seriously, I'm working on three bigger things at the moment, am preparing my move across the Channel and got about five thousand other things on my to-do list. I will give my best to resume normal service as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your patience, and - most of all - for reading what I come with week after week!

10 Nov 2013

German quicky indies: Booklits, Singles, microstuff

After a couple of excursions, it's about time I got back to my ebook single project. This week I'd like to take a look at a couple of new German indie publishers that specialise on singles. Some only do digital formats, one actually also publishes Pixi format physical copies, which are totally adorable by the way. By and by I'll hopefully get around to take a look at some of their titles in detail, but for now I'd simply like to introduce them, since they're all pretty much BRAND NEW. (At least to me.)

Literatur-Quickie


To start with the one publisher on this list that still does things with paper, Literatur-Quickie - as their name already suggests - have focussed on short stories since their first series back in 2009. Based in Hamburg and Berlin, they started out with organising the "shortest literary events ever" and discovered that there might be a market for tiny books in German. Since then they've published 10 series of 5 booklits each (that's what they themselves call their Pixis), some of them reprints of earlier texts (some Kafka, some Ringelnatz), most of them new stuff (Juli Zeh, amongst others), between 20 and 50 pages in length. From this autumn onwards, they also do graphic novels - or would that be graphic short stories?

What is interesting concerning the subscription idea I discussed in one of my former blogposts, the Literatur-Quickie peeps offer a subscription of their booklits and send them home to you twice a year. I haven't been able to track down anything comparable for their ebooks, which are distributed by dotbooks by the way.

I chanced upon these guys at the Frankfurt book fair, we got chatting, and I really liked their idea of Pixi books for adults, I think they'd make great tiny presents. I've got one on my pile now and very much look forward to my first grown-up Pixi book. Unfortunately their very hip website doesn't help with browsing through the rest of their titles: the cover thumbnails can't be looked at in detail and they don't list the titles and authors next to them either... is there some web admin listening by any chance?

mikrotext


The first of the three start-ups to be mentioned when I started this project back in October, mikrotext from Berlin (where else?), describe themselves as "a digital publisher for short digital reading" but their texts aren't quite as minute as their name suggests (but who knows, maybe they'll branch out into haikus one day?). They publish only eight books a year, but they are usually thematically linked to one another, cover non-fiction as well as fiction, and some of their texts are available in English, too.They don't sell their ebooks directly from their website, but from all big ebook platforms like Amazon, iTunes, Buecher.de, Hugendubel, kobo, Weltbild, etc. which are all linked. The latest title in their English series, I Love Myself OK? A Berlin Trilogy by Chloe Zeegen, is marketed as a book of the Facebook generation, written in the style of a chatroom. I can't say whether that's a good thing or no since I am yet to read it.

CulturBooks - Elektrische Bücher


CulturBooks have lately created quite a stir in the German publishing landscape as one of the new start-ups that focus on digital-only publishing, like mikrotext. They are essentially a bilingual publishing house that offers different formats from Singles (short stories) via Maxis (novellas) and Longplayers (novels) to Albums (short story collections, as they're known to the rest of the world). Their first programme just got published at the beginning of October, so they're the youngest of the three today. As most start-ups, they've got a motto, which they nicked from Pippi Longstockings: they simply do whatever they like. I'm not entirely sure that this is going to make for a recognisable brand identity, but then Pippi got rather far with that motto, right?


For me personally, "Elektrische Bücher" sets my hipster alarm off and I've proven quite unable to decipher their colour coding (is it a code at all? Or is it only a post-ironic random distribution of green, blue, red and yellow? Should I take my Penguin-tinted glasses off?), but there are a couple of items in their programme I find intriguing/will review/would like to review *nudge, nudge*: I've got "Furthest Point South" by Pippa Goldschmidt on my pile (now there's another thing I miss in the digital world: piles. Seriously, I can't organise my worklife without piles. I forget files. If I had a pile with stuff to review, I would have been able to remember that poor author's name right away and wouldn't have to check again. So it's definitely "Pile, not file!" for me.) And the Album Chicken Sex sounds interesting. Just because.

Anyway, that's it for today. I'll keep a look out for any more subscription news and will hopefully find the time to do a proper review again soon (that thing called Life is currently taking over a bit...).

29 Oct 2013

It's Halloween, show off your word nerdery!

As a confessing word nerd who as a rule never dates anybody whose spelling is worse than mine and who's got a bit of subbing experience in two languages - one of which knows the full extent of both the terms 'grammar' and 'Nazi' -, I wince whenever I read this title, not to speak of the atrocity of typing it. Admittedly, this might also have something to do with the literariness of the quote that touches on another of my private passions. Originally from one of the Meditations by John Donne, but usually better known as the title of Hemingway's Spanish Civil War novel of 1940 (or the Metallica song), it could very well be that I'm doubly challenged in this respect.

A book that takes as its aim to set grammar right and to clean up with a couple of obsolete or indeed obscure 'rules' of writing will nowadays inevitably be called a "grammar nazis' Mein Kampf", and some tweets and readers' reactions appear to confirm this. Yet, Marsh's book is in fact anything but: grounded in current linguistic theories of the evolution of grammar and the philosophy of language, Marsh puts reason before rule. As production editor of the Guardian, who is also the face behind the @guardianstyle twitter feed, he knows about the importance of clear and concise writing, as well as a sensible approach to language in general. He is strongly in favour of the descriptive side of grammarians, who analyse language in the form we all use it - not as certain purists would have us to. So, real grammar nazis will have to look elsewhere to get off on strict prescriptive dos and don'ts.

Thank. Dog.

For Who the Bell Tolls (ouch!) starts with a very short introduction and explanation of the most important grammatical terms for the non-linguist, such as noun, adjective, preposition, etc. If this already sets off your didactical alarm bells, rest assured: Marsh does this with the help of a "grammar playlist", i.e. song titles that mainly consist of the word group he'd like to talk about in this instance. This playlist combines pretty much anything from The Beatles to Kylie Minogue (I never thought I'd put those two together in a sentence, but here we go), and works astonishingly well to remain a welcome lightness. And what is more, Marsh generally keeps the terminology to a minimum throughout the book.

He then takes out his broom and gets rid of a couple of obsolete or obscure writing rules, such as the various 'thou shalt nots' on splitting infitivies, beginning sentences with conjunctions, or ending them with prepositions. His underlying thesis here is, 'if people speak like this, and they understand each other without difficulties, that's totally fine - relax!'. The following chapters deal with the most common sources for mistakes or - what is worse - misunderstandings: the definitiveness of relative clauses, where to put apostrophes and other punctuation marks. The tone is slightly less entertaing in these chapters, mainly because they are more list-like and probably meant to serve as a manual, which contrasts a lot with the beginning chapters and those towards the end of the book. Particularly the passage on semicolons broke my longish-sentence-loving heart (a bit): it's not quite as painful as Kurt Vonnegut's dismissal of semicolons as "transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing", but to state that "you can lead a full and happy life without bothering with semicolons" (p.96) appears to me like a life without pugs did to the German comedian Loriot: possible, but certainly unfulfilled. (If you want to read up on the qualities of the sexiest and most elegant of all punctuation marks, I'd recommend this.)

From about two thirds of the book onwards, For Who the Bell Tolls (!) goes back to discussing good (mainly in the sense of non-offensive) writing style rather than focussing on the purely grammatical: how to use foreign words correctly, if you're sense of superiority can't do without them altogether; how to spot and fight incomprehensible or misleading jargon; how to write non-offensively (known as 'politically corrrect' to those who don't get it); and how to battle empty phrases and clichés in the form predominantly distributed by newspapers and other media. What's mainly of interest here and also a very valid point, is that Marsh sheds light on how language - and its sloppy or even misleading and wrong use of it - influences and shapes our world. This is by no means a new thought, as pretty much everybody who deals in words has found out at one point of their lives, but no less worth repeating in the age of "ethnic cleansing" and "preemptive strikes".

The volume finishes with a personal and annotated top ten of language books for the future word nerd, and an index that helps you to quickly find topics like "berks and wankers" (they're referred to on pages 29 to 30) or "pedantry, up with which not to put" (p. 40).

As mentioned at the beginning, Marsh is a great fan of using plain, concise language and he sticks to his own maxime, which is generally a godsend, but in this case particularly welcoming. He occasionally tends towards the more awkward simile that puts pictures at least in my mind that I had never dreamed of in the context of language. Just to take two examples that occur within only a few pages of each other: the wrong use of the 'who' instead of the object case 'whom' can in some instances stick out "like a cucumber stuffed down a Chippendale's thong" (p. 61), or a phrase left dangling at the beginning of a sentence feels "like a naked man trying to climb a barbed-wire fence" (p. 64). Ah, yes. Thank you; I'd already suspected grammar had something to do with penises and their substitutes...

So, For Who the Bell Tolls (it STILL hurts!) is a great, quirky and entertaining book if you always wanted to know what Milton and Yoda have in common, or what exactly 'antanaclasis' is and how to use it. In short, it's the right book for you if you want to prove a total word nerd at the next Halloween party - and seriously: who wouldn't?

Book info:
David Marsh, For Who the Bell Tolls. London: Faber & Faber and Guardian Books, 2013. GBP 12.99. (hard cover)



P.S.: I normally wouldn't point out typos in a review unless they seriously distract from the reading, but I think it's just too hilarious to find a mix-up of "their" and "there" in a book that is all about explaining the difference between them and eliminating mistakes such as these - so I hope that in this case I may be forgiven: dearest editor, take a look at page 230, bottom half.

20 Oct 2013

New stuff for free: Literary mags to your inbox

As a uni lecturer who used to focus on contemporary writing a lot of  people used to ask me how I kept track of all the stuff that's out there. Most of my colleagues simply rely on Best Of lists, on prize-winning works, etc. All well, but to be honest, that's not quite as much fun as finding out for yourself is. Plus, it's an excellent exercise: how long does it take you to find out whether you want to finish reading a particular text; what do you find intriguing about it; which elements of the writing or the content jar with your idea of how this text could, or even should, work? In short, I find it easier to learn something about your own reading behaviour when you're dealing with stuff that's not already been through the academic text processor, to discover your own taste, and to be able to explain it to others.

Now, as students - like a lot of other people - tend to live on a budget, I'd like to introduce two brand new literature mags that are delivered for free to your email inbox, one about letters of all sorts, the other about poetry.


The Letters Page: A Literary Journal in Letters

Edited at Notthingham Uni by Jon McGregor, to whom I eventually owe all of my knowledge about cricket (which is still no more than skin deep, but hey!), you can either enjoy what other people make of their letter-related briefs, or you can exercise your penmanship yourself (and be paid for it)  in this new and entirely free letter mag. Handwritten submissions only. For an online mag. They've noticed the irony.

P.S.: Funny that as a subscriber I'm now receiving personalized emails from Notts Uni English Department - the same department that chucked me out of my English classes when I was an Erasmus student there years ago. You always meet twice...


IN Magazine

Apart from my other idiosyncratic habits, students of mine have always been puzzled by my love for poetry, particularly for contemporary poetry. Most of them simply shook their heads in utter incomprehension, or sometimes in quiet sadness at my obsession, but some at least appeared to be intrigued and kept asking me how and where to find good contemporary poetry. Though I'm definitely the wrong person to say anything about 'good' poetry, I can at least tell them what I like - and where to begin and find it.

So, there's a new free poetry magazine out: originating around the Durham Book Festival, this is a weekly poetry email you can subscribe to. They publish a small number of poems every week, sometimes accompanied by an interview or by additional material about a poem. Since it comes in easily digestible chunks compared to traditional poetry mags that can be a bit too much at once, IN magazine is a good way to get familiar with some of the stuff that's being written right now if you're strapped for cash, or don't know yet whether you want to stick with it or no.


These are only some suggestions to start with. I'll try and update this post with other contemporary stuff that I find interesting to check out, so watch this space! And thank you for listening.

13 Oct 2013

The Day After: Book Fair Hangover

It's over; I'm back. With a massive hangover.

As always, those days of the Frankfurt Book Fair that were open for the general public were the busiest. I have yet to hear official visitor figures but particularly halls 3 and 4, where the German language publishers presented their fare, were pretty impossible to get though in less than half an hour, if mainly for the un.i.maginably slow pace of all those retired school teachers, who casually stroll from one stand to another, usually crossing the aisle while chatting to their best bookmates. Nothing wrong with that - if you don't need to be elsewhere at exactly that moment. So, planning appointments on Book Fair Saturday is a bit of a challenge but one never learns, right?

Anyway, in the end I usually got to where I needed to be and the conversations started. And that's where this peculiar kind of hangover comes from. On the bus home this afternoon I realized how many observations, contacts and ideas for future projects I took with me in my holdall: loads of food for thought, and fodder for the blog. Thanks to all the lovely people who took the time to chat to me, asked about the blog and my projects, who pushed books onto me, dictated lists of publishers worth checking out, etc. That's what a fair is about, isn't it?

So please excuse me while I see to my hangover...

6 Oct 2013

Another Galley Beggar Single: Almost Blue, by Tony O'Neill

Almost Blue by Tony O'Neill will punch you hard and slap you in the face. The third Galley Beggar Book Single on my list, it's by far the most upsetting until now. Not at all because something dreadful happens, though there is enough potential for this, what with all characters fast on the track towards an overdose. It's more to do with the self-made hamster cages all characters find themselves in but are unable and/or unwilling to leave. It's truly a story of dead ends, and that's the awful bit. The truly awful bit. And that's all I'm going to say about the content. For 1 GBP, Almost Blue is good value - I for once won't forget this one for quite some time to come. So go ahead and read for yourself; here's the link: http://www.galleybeggar.co.uk/book-store/ebook/almost-blue/

I think after having read and attempted to talk about a couple of book singles that all happened to be from the same publisher, it might be a good idea to take stock. Or perhaps it isn't. Anyway, time's running out for my blogpost this week and I don't want to run up any Iron Buchblogger debts. Can't afford it, mind.

So, these singles on the short end of the spectrum brought me back to the short story. Not that I was very far away from them before, what with my students unearthing new ones every summer term, but I hadn't read too many of them fresh from the publishers, rather slightly older stuff, or simply, the stuff that tends to get washed up at universities some decades after their first publication. And some things that I like about the short story popped back into my consciousness again; the limited perspective of the narration, the sketchiness of the characters who don't need a back story or anything to make their stories interesting or plausible. They're stories that are sort of 'natural' stories; for me, they are like meeting someone in a bar who - perhaps slightly drunkenly - tells you a story, something they've experienced and want to share for one reason or another. And as with strangers in a pub, I think there's a similar momentary  intimacy that retreats within minutes after having read the last sentence - no, I don't want to know more about those people and what happened to them afterwards; I'm content and intrigued with what I heard, that's that and that is good.

Tech stuff: After having been not really convinced of reading the files in PDF format, I finally managed to read Almost Blue on my kindle app for Android (yay!). Unfortunately you need to trick the app into believing that you bought it via the kindle shop, which is not as intuitive as it should be. Anyway, once you've found the folder where the app stores its ebooks and you've copied your brand new single into this bespoke folder, it works perfectly (took me only ten days to figure this out - of course the idea came in the middle of the night - so if you ever experience similar troubles and my solution turns out to work for you too, think of me and offer me a highly paid position right away - you won't regret it).

Book Single information:
Almost Blue, by Tony O'Neill. Published by Galley Beggar Press, 2013. GBP 1.


Next week I'll try out singles by another publisher. In fact, they only just launched last week, so this stuff would be hot off the presses if there was such a thing any longer. Watch this space!

29 Sep 2013

Shortie subscriptions: get your weekly dose of literature!


On another note, Galley Beggar Press have announced in their newsletter that they're contemplating a Singles Club subscription, which I think is a great idea - not at least because I've been talking about something similar for months now and my secretly hot air balloon-sized ego still likes its own ideas best. However, such a subscription scheme might simply prove great for all agents involved: writers see their shorter texts, including poems, reach an audience they otherwise would probably struggle to attract outside of - let's face it - rather niche specialized magazines; readers get the opportunity to discover new voices they like without having to comb the net; and publishers are able to establish a closer relationship with their customers and at the same time can cut the distribution chain in the case of digital subscriptions - and communicate with people's email inboxes or mobile devices right away.

And, perhaps, physical book lovers like me could book a nice little extra of getting the most popular stories/poems of a year in a lovely little anthology? Just a thought.... Anyway: I'm in.

Single Review: Best Friend, by Samuel Wright

I've got another book single from the short end of the short story/novella spectrum of Galley Beggar's Singles Club on my list today (doesn't 'Singles Club' sound a bit like a dating thing? But then again, how better to meet someone than over a book or story? There might be something in this...): Best Friend peeks into the psychological cosmos of children and their acute sense for loyalty.

The story of Bobby and Jay explores the rather paradoxical tos and fros of one of the most important questions for kids - "who's your best friend?". Bobby is sure that he and Jay are best friends; after all, they explore Hackney Marshes together and dream of living in the wild in a shed made of sticks - and that's clearly something only best friends could pull off together. However, when Jay doesn't come to school for quite some time, Bobby finds himself strangely reluctant to go and see what has become of his best friend. Since it's actually a bit tricky to sum up without major spoilers what happens when Jay eventually comes back, let's just say that although they continue to hang out with each other, something's gone missing from their friendship.

What's great about this story is that we as readers are so close to Bobby's confusion as he tries to grasp what has happened and grapples with accepting his own role in the events. The limited perspective of the child makes us share Bobby's insecurity and horror, and leaves all the 'adult' work of judging his behaviour to the reader. Nice one!

Book Single information:
Best Friend, by Samuel Wright. Published by Galley Beggar Press, 2013. 7pp. GBP 1.

20 Sep 2013

The Frankfurt Bookfair and me

I've decided to go to the Frankfurt Bookfair again this year. Yes, it's madness; yes, my feet will fall off; yes, I will collect way too many catalogues that I'm never going to look at in any detail. Yes, the food will be too expensive for its crappiness and don't get me started on accomodation... But still. It's hall after hall full of books. And of book people. Seriously, how could one resist?

And then my former visits to the bookfair have always triggered some project or another. I've met the most generous people who were fabulous for contacts, others helped me with finding the right titles for a project (yeah, you keep trying to get an overview of what is currently being published in connection to one topic in fiction if there's nothing like a database with proper tags available...!). And some were just incredibly nice.

This time I want to focus on small publishers who put their energy into coming up with new ideas instead of whinging about how bloody awful the world's become since the arrival of amazon. I want to see where publishing on the fringe is going, and what this has to offer for us readers. I hope I'll be able to find them.

So, that's it then. I'll pack my bag, get myself on the bus on Oct 12 really early in the morning, make sure I've got an audiobook with me to keep me entertained on the motorway, and hello again, Frankfurt! Anybody else coming?

P.S.: By the way, I'm still looking for a sofa to rest my weary head on that night. I'm small and I don't snore. :-)



14 Sep 2013

First Single Review: My Beauty, by Rowana Macdonald


My Beauty, written by Rowana Macdonald is a short story of the very short kind, totalling three and a half pages. But then, as is the case with most decent short stories, there's no need for more. It focusses on a couple of hours in the life of Danuta, a Lithuanian beauty who works on a Danish fur farm to finance her studies. Or rather, who used to work at the farm until she became the owner's favourite and moved in with him. Danuta has learned a lot about fur during her shifts at the farm, but above all she's learned the value of flawless beauty - and she is determined to use her own marble features to make her way in the world. Danuta's biggest rival for Sven's admiration turns out to be Princess, the only mink with a name on the farm, flawless too with her white fur, and tame in Sven's hands.

Macdonald eerily connects the two beauties' fates with each other, whose existence stands and falls with Sven's mercy, thereby playing with the commercialisation of beauty and the possessiveness and cruelty of those who "appreciate" it. In instances like "His favourite mink is asleep in her cage, reclining with a seductive twist on her back. Her nipples are tender pink berries and her mouth is curled in a secretive smile as if she's having sweet dreams", the parallel exploitation of minx and mink becomes almost too obvious. However, although fur and skin are the pervading motifs, the story exudes such a coldness through the characters that any notion of emotional kitsch is kept at bay. Everybody in this story - even the animal - seems to be constantly calculating their profits, and every kind of relationship is solely based on these. Three and a half pages is all it takes Macdonald to conjure up a story that alludes to the exploitation of immigrants, prostitution, and violence and that leaves you with a feeling of chilly unease.


As to the technical side of things - I suppose this is the digital equivalent of that part of the review where you usually comment on the quality of the editing and the academic apparatus, at least in academic reviewing, so I think this is somewhat important for my purposes here - the ebook is designed probably pretty much in the same way as Galley Beggar's physical books are. Nothing wrong with that, but the format doesn't adapt too well to the screen size of my 7'' tablet: the pages are too wide and the type size appears tiny, so that a lot of time passes with enlargening, scrolling and swishing over my screen to follow the sentences. I have to add thought that I got the PDF version; perhaps the other digital formats are easier to navigate in this respect. I promise to try out alternatives.

Book Single information:
My Beauty, by Rowana Macdonald. Published by Galley Beggar Press, 2013. 4pp. GBP 1.


9 Sep 2013

New Project: Ebook Singles

Last Thursday the Guardian's Julian Gough predicted that Amazon's Kindle Singles are going to be the future. Thank dog he also included other publishers' digital copies of fiction and non-fiction texts that allow authors to get work published which doesn't fit any of the traditional formats, i.e. which is too long to count as a short story, too short to be a novel, too long as an essay and too short for a monograph. He proposes to call these texts 'bookeens', little books. I'm not sure that this term will eventually make it, but I leave that for definers of genre to ponder over.

I myself am intrigued by this new format and the texts themselves: are we really going to witness the evolution of new genres, somewhere between the short and the long form for both fiction and non-fiction? Will they be new in any structural sense? Is there really something like a text "at [its] natural length" (Gough) or do Singles simply mean that the sometimes necessary cuts and focussing got lost? To find out, I'll have to read some, I suppose. And that's what I'm planning to do: review Book Singles.

This is a bit of a new departure for me because I've always been (and am going to stay!) a proper paper book lover, who enjoys nothing more than leaving train tickets and receipts in books, placing finished volumes on my shelves, and scribbling in the margins. The Singles are digital only in their nature, so I suppose I will have to get used to that first.

I asked for indie publishers on twitter yesterday that also offer these short texts, but apart from the Galley Beggar Press with their Singles Club I didn't get any further recommendations other than Amazon (by the way, thanks, Thom!). So, I'd be really glad to get any more suggestions, preferably from smaller presses, since the whole Amazon malarkey simply bores the sh*t out of me when it comes to publishing.

Thanks in advance for all your suggestions and comments, I hope some of you would like to join me in reading and discussing!

Stuttgarter Ballett (im Park): Krabat

I accidentally deleted this post while working on the site, so this is a re-loaded version. The original one dates 14 Jul 2013.

I've been enthusing about this on twitter for so long that I thought I might as well write a proper blog entry about the ballet I saw last weekend. I'm not usually a ballet person since for some reason words tend to do more for me than sounds or pictures. But Krabat is based on a much-loved children's book by one of my childhood heroes, Otfried Preußler, who gave us so many unforgettable characters like Räuber Hotzenplotz, Die kleine Hexe, Der kleine Wassermann, and Krabat, which is closer to YA than children's literature, so I thought, why not give it a try?
Based on a Sorbian fairy tale and set in 16th-century Saxony, Krabat is an orphan who travels the area with a group of other beggar boys, when he finds himself mysteriously drawn to a mill in a valley, where he begins an apprenticeship. He soon notices that milling isn't the only craft he is going to learn at this particular mill and he joins the other journeymen and apprentices at night, practising Black Magic under the miller's guidance. The twelve turn themselves into ravens for these sessions. 
Krabat finds a friend and surrogate brother in Tonda, the senior journeyman, who shows him the ropes in the mill. On New Year's Eve of Krabat's first year as an apprentice, however, Tonda dies in an accident, but the other journeymen stay astonishingly calm about this. The same happens on New Year's Eve the following year, when another senior apprentice dies. Krabat realizes that the Master either has to sacrifice one of his apprentices at the end of the year or his pact with the devil ends and he has to die himself. The Master usually picks the best of his pupils, before they become strong enough to challenge him.
Planning revenge for his friends' deaths, Krabat wants to become the best pupil of them all. Juri, the apparent idiot cook in the mill, warns Krabat and reveals to him that he will only manage to stay alive by acting dumb like he himself does. The two of them secretly train together to challenge the Master at the end of the year, and Juri discovers that Krabat's love for a girl from the village, Kantorka (meaning "little chorister" in Sorbian), increases his resistance to magic.
Kantorka agrees to ask for Krabat's release on New Year's Eve, in the full knowledge that if she fails the Master's test they both are going to die. Before they can execute this plan, however, the Master offers Krabat the inheritance of the mill and of the pact with the devil. Yet Krabat turns down this offer, as he doesn't want to be responsible for other people's deaths in order to keep his magical powers.
When Kantorka - whose real name we never get to know - appears on the night of the challenge, the Master turns all the boys once again into ravens, blindfolds Kantorka and challenges her to identify her lover among the birds. Since the apprentices are all fearing for their own life, while Krabat is the only one fearing for the life of his love, she is able to tell him apart, the journeymen are all free to leave - albeit without their magical powers - , and the Master is left to die in his burning mill.
The fairytale elements of the story already evoke fairly strong visuals, as any 10-year old who's read the book will tell you. What turns this production into a complete success is the combination of the strong design of set and costumes by Katharina Schlipf with Demis Volpi's choreography that really manages to communicate character and emotion. 
The mill consists entirely of high walls of flour sacks and catches the claustrophobic atmosphere of the Master's realm. They seriously limit the dancers' space and particularly in the big scenes with all apprentices present there is hardly enough room for them all to move, let alone jump, which sometimes feels a shame. What fascinated me most, though, were the raven costumes. Elongating the dancers' arms to twice their normal length and fitted with five different kinds of real feathers as well as synthetic ones, the wings worked incredibly well in the choreography. 


A second lucky idea was the Master's long, black coat. (Yes, Sherlock fans will see what I mean.) Apart from being absolutely awesome, this coat was also used to signify the Master's power and position in the mill. When he offers Krabat to succeed him as miller, he hands over his coat, and Krabat literally picks up the mantle, tries it on and - in a long solo dance scene - fights the coat that attempts to take possession of him. 
It is exactly the economy behind decisions like these that makes the production so powerful. There are no special effects necessary to evoke the dark magical world of the mill; music, light, costumes, and choreography lead the audience through the story of the Sorbian orphan turned wizard.
One thing I should add is that I was able to see Krabat for free and open air - the performance was broadcast live from the Opernhaus to the park in front of it, where the audience could follow the music and action on a massive LED screen, while tending to their picknicks and sipping chilled wine. The close-ups of the dancers added considerably to the experience - one which you can never have up in the gods. So, thank you, Stuttgarter Ballett im Park - more like this, anytime!
P.S.: There's one point of critique - the depiction of the choir girls... well, that could have been less stereotypical. If the Master is eventually defeated by strong women (there's a lengthy magical battle between him and another Master, who's a proper kick-ass young woman; plus the devil is female), why stage the choir girls all the time en point and going through Ballet routines whereas the rest of the cast is allowed to have a bit of fun?
More info: 

12 Aug 2013

"I think Prospero’s suicide is a must." Interview with Simone Sterr, artistic director of the Landestheater Tübingen

This is the transcript and an English translation of an interview I did with the artistic director of the bigger of our local theatres last month. They staged a site-specific production of the Tempest on the topmost park deck of a multi-storey car park. My review will be eventually up on reviewingshakespeare.com, but I thought I might as well put the interview on here, for those interested. The pictures are all taken from the LTT's homepage; the copyright for the production photos: Patrick Pfeifer.

Here's the English translation first:


LP: What came first, the decision to stage The Tempest or the idea to do it in a car park?

SS: That went kind of together. It was the decision to do this play for the Summer Theatre and then the decision for the venue. We were looking for an island of some kind and consequently looking for natural islands and stuff like that; we had a look at everything available. But then, The Tempest isn’t really a play where any romantic idea of nature plays a major role. It is rather an island that is an exile, it is a place of privation where nobody really wants to be. So, where can you find a place in this town that is close to the water, that feels like an island, where somebody gets stranded, exiled, where you can find people who have fallen out of society, like Caliban or Prospero, who’s said goodbye to all that circus or rather who was forced to say goodbye to all that?


LP: Are there more advantages of this venue compared to the big auditorium in the Landestheater, apart from the symbolic ones?

SS: First it has an aesthetic advantage and compared to the big auditorium it’s the decision for an open air experience. You want to be a bit closer to the sky and you have a range of different means to work with. One thing you have to be aware of though is that you don’t start to wish for the focus of the proscenium stage. There was a point yesterday when we discussed whether it was okay that you could see a spotlight and then you can basically go back inside the theatre where you can draw your curtains. I think we managed to come up with a couple of ideas for the driveway [up to this parking deck] and this is the moment when you really start using a site like this. The car park is super ugly as a space, it is entirely possible to meet a garbage kid like Caliban here, but at the same time it offers the possibility for magic, for enchantment, because you can create beautiful images and work with the light.


LP: It is possible then to bring Prospero’s magic onto the parking deck?

SS: Absolutely. Those things over there [points to the transformer columns on the riverside of the setting], they can do stuff, they can glow and flash, those transformers. The basic idea behind this is magic as a kind of mastery of nature. That was the key word we set ourselves. And to control nature also means to control energy, the wind, the sun, water; it also means to control emotions. This is also one of the big topics in Shakespeare, control: power and love, governing, being governed – all of this is strongly related to nature in the Tempest, how to control it and subject it to one’s will. That is Prospero, too. I don’t think he’s that likeable poor guy who was the victim of a coup although he knows so much and is a philosopher; we weren’t interested in that. Rather in this.


LP: In Prospero as a power hungry person?

SS: Yes.


LP: Was this also the reason for choosing a Shakespeare for this year’s Summer Theatre season?

SS: I like the play, also for this reason. I did A Midsummer Night’s Dream where I was also fascinated by this topic, the interplay of power and love. I did the political plays, Troilus and Cressida and the Purpurheuchler [an adaptation of the three parts of Henry VI], all these plays about kingship. So I was interested in continuing this kind of work and connect it to the supernatural, to magic. The Tempest isn’t really psychological but it’s got something suggestive. Ariel actually affects people’s souls, he works on them in a way that is related to depth psychology, almost traumatic. I think this is an interesting quality that no other play has.


LP: After I’ve seen the rehearsals for Act V, there won’t be a happy ending for everyone in this production...

SS: That is still a question that is slightly undecided, but I am truly convinced of the fact that Prospero can’t return from the island. I’m sure that in the precise moment when his staged revenge has worked out according to plan, this revenge feels like a superfluous emotion. Basically, the Tempest is a truly boring play: the staging works exactly the way it’s laid out in Prospero’s script, there’s not even the slightest mistake. Caliban is the only uncontrollable element, but apart from that everything works, which is actually totally boring. And in this moment, when everything has come off as planned, the only thing that remains for him is to jump into the Neckar or just to kill himself. So I’m convinced that he’s got to die. I think Prospero’s suicide is a must.


LP: One last question: which translation did you use for this production?

SS: It’s the one by Frank Günther. I find Günther’s translations really good for the richer and lusher political plays. They can sometimes get on your nerves a bit because he plays a lot with language, these peculiar words, which are sometimes too artificial. But actually this gives the text a good, lush, light artificiality, which is important for the size this production has.

_________________________

And here comes the German transcript.


LP: Was war zuerst da, die Entscheidung für den Spielort oder für das Stück?

SS: Das ging so ein bisschen zusammen. Es war die Entscheidung fürs Stück als Sommertheater und dann die Entscheidung für den Spielort. Wir haben eine Insel gesucht und waren dann auch nach Naturinseln und so auf der Suche, haben uns alles angesehen. Aber dann ist das aber kein Stück, wo es eigentlich um Romantik oder Naturromantik geht, sondern um eine Insel, wo man ausgesetzt ist, so ein Notort, wo keiner eigentlich hin möchte. Wo gibt es eine Ecke in dieser Stadt, die eine Nähe zum Wasser hat, die ein Inselgefühl hat, wo jemand gestrandet ist, ausgesetzt, wo also Leute zu finden sind, die eigentlich rausgefallen sind aus der Gesellschaft, wie Caliban und wie Prospero, der sich verabschiedet hat von dem ganzen Zirkus oder zwangsweise verabschiedet wurde.


LP: Hat der Ort noch andere Vorteile oder Nachteile im Vergleich zum Großen Saal des LTTs, einmal von der symbolischen Dimension abgesehen?

SS: Erstens hat es natürlich einen ästhetischen Vorteil und im Vergleich zum Großen Saal ist es natürlich die Entscheidung fürs Freie. Man will ein bisschen dem Himmel näher sein und man hat ja auch andere Formen zur Verfügung. Man muss halt aufpassen, dass man sich von der Konzentration nicht dann doch den Großen Saal wünscht. Gestern gab es eine Situation, wo es darum ging, ob man einen Scheinwerfer sehen darf. Dann können wir auch ins Theater gehen, da können wir schön die Vorhänge zumachen. Ich finde, mit der Auffahrt [zum Parkdeck] ist uns doch einiges eingefallen, und das sind dann so Momente, wo man einen Ort auch wirklich benutzt. Das Parkdeck ist ein superhässlicher Ort, so ein Müllkind wie Caliban könnte man hier treffen, und es hat aber trotzdem die Möglichkeit des Zaubers, die Möglichkeit der Verzauberung, weil sich einfach schöne Bilder herstellen lassen und man mit dem Licht gut arbeiten kann.


Q: Es ist also möglich, Prosperos Zauber aufs Parkdeck zu bringen?

A: Absolut. Also die Dinger [zeigt auf die Umspannsäulen an der Flussseite der Kulisse] können ja was, die können leuchten, die Transformatoren. Die Grundidee ist die Magie als eine Art von Naturbeherrschung, das ist das Stichwort, das wir uns vorgenommen haben. Und Natur beherrschen heißt auch, Energie beherrschen, heißt die Sonne, den Wind, das Wasser beherrschen, heißt natürlich auch Gefühle beherrschen. Das ist ja auch ein fettes Shakespeare-Thema, Beherrschung: Macht und Liebe, Herrschen, Beherrschung, beim ‚Sturm’ hat das sehr stark auch mit den Naturen zu tun, die zu beherrschen, sich unterwürfig zu machen. Das ist auch Prospero. Ich finde den nicht so den sympathischen Armen, den man geputscht hat, wo er doch ganz viel kann und ein Philosoph ist, das hat uns jetzt nicht so interessiert. Sondern das so.


Q: Prospero als Machtmensch?
A: Ja.


Q: War das auch der Grund für die Wahl eines Shakespeare-Stückes für das diesjährige Sommertheater?

A: Ich find das Stück toll, auch aus diesem Grund. Ich habe den Sommernachtstraum gemacht, da hat mich das auch schon interessiert, dieses Spiel von Macht und Liebe, ich habe diese politischen Sachen gemacht, Troilus und Cressida und die Purpurheuchler, diese ganzen Königsdramen. Da ist man schon daran interessiert, das irgendwie weiterzuführen und in Verbindung zu bringen mit Übersinnlichkeit, mit Magie. Der Sturm ist nicht wirklich psychologisch, aber hat doch so etwas Suggestives. Ariel wirkt ja gewissermaßen in die Seelen der Leute, wirkt quasi tiefenpsychologisch, nahezu traumatisch. Und das finde ich ist eine interessante Qualität, die kein anderes Stück hat.


Q: Nachdem ich die Proben für den fünften Akt gesehen habe, gibt es also kein happy end für alle?

A: Das ist tatsächlich noch eine Frage, die noch ein bisschen ungeklärt ist, aber ich bin tatsächlich überzeugt davon, dass Prospero nicht zurückkann vom Eiland. Ich bin davon überzeugt, dass für ihn, der wirklich eine Inszenierung dieses Rachefeldzuges anstrengt, in dem Moment, wo alles geklappt hat, sich die Rache anfühlt wie ein überflüssiges Gefühl. Der Sturm ist ja eigentlich ein langweiliges Stück: die Inszenierung läuft genauso am Schnürchen wie es in Prospero’s Regiebuch steht, da passiert nicht mal ein Fehler. Caliban ist das unbeherrschbare Element, aber ansonsten läuft das, also eigentlich total langweilig. Und hier in dem Moment, wo alles funktioniert hat wie er sich’s vorgestellt hat, bleibt eigentlich nur noch in den Neckar zu springen oder sich einfach umzubringen. Also ich bin überzeugt, er muss sterben. Der Selbstmord von Prospero, finde ich, muss sein.


Q: Noch eine letzte Frage: Welche Übersetzung liegt denn der Inszenierung zu Grunde?

A: Die von Frank Günther. Ich finde Günther’s Übersetzungen für die satteren, politischeren Stücke immer sehr gut. Der kann manchmal ein bisschen nerven, weil er so dieses Sprachgespiele, die speziellen Wörter hat, wie hier bei Caliban „Gifthexentau“. Manchmal ist das zu artifiziell, aber eigentlich gibt das immer so eine gute, satte, leichte Künstlichkeit, das ist uns auch schon für die Größe, die das hier hat, wichtig.

1 Jul 2013

On Dinosaurs and Dactyls


I already posted this on my facebook page at the end of last winter term, but since fb's got its issues and not everybody likes to sign up I thought it could find a place here too, where nobody has to sign up for anything. So, sorry for posting 'old' stuff, but I feel that this one is going to age well at least.

The following is a copy of an email exchange between one of my firstyears and me. The student in question had missed more than the allowed two sessions per term and felt the need to apologise. He did so in 17 couplets. He was quite right to do so because in order to get your credits in this case you'll have to hand in some extra work, like a short analysis of a poem. And that's what I answered him and what he did at the end of term.

It's all a bit silly, really, but I hope you'll enjoy our little metred exchange.

P.S.: Please keep in mind that both participants of this conversation are neither poets nor native speakers of English.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Dear Mrs. Peter,
I'm writing you this
Because I am hoping you won't be too pissed.
I know it looks bad and I'll tell you my tale
In hopes of explaining and that I won't fail.
Last week a sore throat meant I was missing class
But I didn't do what one normally does:
The doctor I didn't go to in my pain.
To class I would simply go next week again.
I didn't think much of it, still had a strike:
Had missed only once (which are odds that I liked). 
Fast forward to this week and my epic fail,
If I was a dog I'd be tucking my tail.
But on with the story: to uni I drove
Where, hurriedly, into the Brechtbau I dove.
Ran up, up the stairs, up to the third floor;
I looked at my watch as I reached for the door.
I opened said door, and what should I see?
Inquisitive faces just staring at me.
I promptly stared back, as I'm prone to do,
And raised up an eyebrow as if to ask "Who...?"
Surprised the instructor to me who would loom,
"Mate, I believe that you're in the wrong room."
With puzzled expression I did turn my face
And just shut the door with no second gaze.
I looked at the room, my schedule was next,
You couldn't imagine how I was perplexed:
I did go to uni without much ado,
Stupidly thinking that class starts at two.
I do not know how and I do not know why,
But I feel so stupid, so why should I lie?
There's no attestation, there's no good excuse,
However, I hope that my chance I don't lose.
Please do not fail me! I beg of you this!
In hope you like dactyls and are not too pissed,
D

Here is my response (took me damn long to get it together!):

Dear D,

thank you a lot for these longish lines
to try and explain your missing again;
I did like those dactyls and read them as signs
that your cold had no big effect on your brains.

In fact, I was quite impressed with your rhymes
and with your metre, which proves such a pain
in most cases - galloping onwards, reaching at times
a hazardous pace - and me in need of breath to regain.

Yet, having said this, there's one thing to do:
there will be some additional writing for you.
Two to three pages should do the trick
and show me your devotion is more than just schtik.
An interpretation of a poem, that should be done
till the beginning of February - how 'bout this one?

All best,
L. Peter
  
 And, finally, here is the assignment D handed in:

Poem Analysis
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one person to miss a session of a seminar at university, and if this person be forced to miss another, and if the Laws of Murphy compel them to miss yet another, a decent respect to the opinions of academics requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the absence, and declare them good elsewise they be expelled from said seminar, and rightly so. Thomas Jefferson did not write these lines in 1776. But that does not mean they are not true. As a student of the English Seminar, you are allowed to miss two sessions per class per semester. It just so happened that DM failed to show up three times during the winter term of 2012/13. In his desperation, he turned to his lecturer, Lisa Peter: he wrote a poem he called Terror Dactylus1, in which he begged for another chance. She replied in an untitled sonnet, commenting on her student's poem and, at the same time, giving him an extra assignment to redeem himself and make up for the lost time. The following paragraphs will examine her poem in detail and analyse and interprete its features.
The first thing that stands out when looking at the poem is the number of its lines: 14. This indicates that it is, indeed, a sonnet - an Italian sonnet, to be precise. The stanzas are arranged in an octett (consisting of 2 quatrains) and a sestett, with a rhyme scheme of alternating rhymes throughout the octett and couplets in the sestett: abba/cbbc/ddeeff. This is a rather unusual rhyme scheme for an Italian sonnet. However, this corresponds very nicely with the rather unusual circumstances in which the poem was written. Furthermore, the separation into octett and sestett goes hand in hand with the content of the poem: while in the first part, Peter comments on M's attempt to write a poem - even admitting that she was "quite impressed with [his] rhymes / and with [his] metre" (line 5-6) -, the sestett focusses on the additional writing assignment. This also confirms that the volta is after the octett, which is only amplified by a "yet" being the first word of the sestett.
Another thing that becomes clear quite quickly is that there is both an explicit speaker and an explicit addressee - Peter and M, respectively. As this poem stems from a conversation via E-mail, this should not come as a big surprise. A thing of note, however, is the number of addresses in the poem. While the first person address can be found four times throughout the poem, the second person features seven times. Peter is thus putting most of the responsibility for the next step - "An interpretation of a poem, that should be done" (13) - on M. However, by mentioning herself all of four times, she reminds M that it is not only him who has to do additional work as a consequence of his absence.

The metre of this poem is the dactylic tetrameter; another conscious decision of the author in reference to her student's chosen metre, who wrote Terror Dactylus in "those dactyls" (3) in a tetrametrical scheme as well. There are two times, however, when she breaks with the metre - both times for effect, not out of inability. The first time is in line 7, when all of a sudden there are five stressed syllables. This is no coincidence, as lines 6 and 7 discuss the difficulties and dangers of keeping with a certain metre: It "proves such a pain / in most cases" (6-7). This irregularity also has a second effect: It portrays the speed the reading can pick up when sticking to the metre (7-8). The second breaking with the metre occurs right after this fast "galloping onwards" (7): when Peter talks about needing to regain her breath in line 8, she does so in iambs, which are shorter than dactyls, giving the line a certain 'choppy' quality, as if you were panting for air. A performer, upon reading this line, might choose to insert a breathing pause after every stressed syllable to further the effect even more.
When superficially looking at the level of tropes, there is not much to be found. Line 1 features an alliteration with the "longish lines", but there does not seem to be more. However, upon looking deeper, there is a certain simplicity to the poem that very elegantly draws your attention to the volta: all but one of the sonnet's lines begin with one of three letters. Six lines begin with the letter T (lines 1,2,4,10,11, and 14); four lines start with the letter A (lines 6,8,12, and 13); and three lines have the letter I as their frontrunner (lines 3, 5, and 7). Only line 9 begins with the letter Y. Unsurprisingly, this letter draws the reader's attention towards a certain point within the poem: the volta. Line 9, with its "Yet" as the first word, moves the first two stanzas aside as if to say: 'Enough of the chit-chat, let's talk brass tax now!' The fact that Y is the only letter that stands alone at the beginning of a line throughout the whole poem serves to augment this change in content very well.
If I had to give this poem a title (which sadly it does not seem to have), I would call it Respontosaurus2, keeping with the dinosaur naming convention of the correspondense. While this name would suggest the apparently simple, yet elegant nature of the poem, it would also pay tribute to its magnitude of interpretative possibilities and hidden secrets.

Notes:
1 A rather clever pun referring both to a winged dinosaur and to the metre used in his poem, while also emphasising his fear of failing the class.
2 Another pun combining the words 'response' and the dinosaur formerly named 'Brontosaurus' (nowadays called Apatosaurus).

29 Jun 2013

First things first: What to call a blog?

Hello. This is my Gespinstbauplatz.

For those not familiar with German compounds, Gespinstbauplatz is a direct translation of the English 'website'; incorrect, but rather beautiful. I didn't come up with it myself - I'm not that clever - but discovered it in an email sent to me years ago by an English-speaking grad student, who took the pain of enquiring after some enrolment regulations in German. He couldn't think of a German word for website (no wonder - we don't have one and therefore simply use half of the English term: Webseite), so he quite rightly decided to translate its components:

web - Netz, Gespinst (das)
site - Bauplatz (der)

Now, Gespinst connotates the ephemeral quality of cobwebs rather than any other kind of more permanent web, and ein Bauplatz is a construction site, so the compound he came up with is mentally a good deal removed from the concept of a homepage. But then again, I find it almost eerily fits my purposes - a blog is after all always under construction, to be built, filled, updated, never quite finished. And the web's connections are fairly fragile too, so perhaps Gespinstbauplatz is after all the right word for my little project - my blog.

I hope I'm not going to bore anybody with my entries and I'll be able to update it regularly. My plan is (as far as I have one) to publish some of the reviews, interviews and other little pieces of writing that have no place elsewhere - textual byproducts of the stuff I do elsewhere, so to speak.

Please feel free to get in touch and comment on posts.

And now, to get Gespinstbauplatz into a proper dictionary: Duden - over to you!