dancing_moon: Wao Youka as Dracula (Creepy)
So I was going to do a nice, well-structured post on the German university system (because some of my former classmates from Sweden were curious) but that will have to wait a bit, since I'm feeling a bit too tired for that right now. My annoying almost-cold is beginning to become a real chest cold, which I am valiantly fighting with the help of fresh ginger tea, eucalyptus honey, hot steamy baths and a bit more actual shut-eye in the sleep/internet equation.

In the beginning of November, we'll go see the Norwegian all-female band Katzenjammer. According to our Katzenjammer-expert, they do "chaos pop with some folk-punk". It's fast, engaging and entertaining at least, and I think the concert might turn out to be really great - they seem like one of those bands that do extra well live.


One of my favorite songs, A bar in Amsterdam.

We bought the tickets today and, since we were at the ticket office already also got tickets for the musical Tanz der Vampire - one pair of plastic fangs included with the tickets!
Alas, it's based on the movie by Roman Polanski, him of serious skeevyness, and as such, I'm sure he'll get royalties. Otoh, I hope it's not too much, because Tanz der Vampire nicely filled some ticky-boxes on my mental "Stuffs I Must Do in Berlin This Exchange Year": Seeing some big-budget stage extravaganza, seeing a original German-language musical and vampires/gothy stuff. They'll show the Rocky Horror Picture Show here in Berlin too, in November, which works for ticky-box one and three, but since it will either be translated or in "denglish" (German talk, English songs) it moves to the second position.
Also, the stage images they have on the website look wonderful (eeeeeven though one of the posters has a bit of a Twilight-y vibe going on) so, uhm, I'll just be evil and go. Sorry.

A few days ago, I finished reading Walter Moer's Ensel and Krete: ein Märchen aus Zamonien. Bookblather goes here )

Basically, it's a take-it-or-leave-it book, though anyone who has a strong liking for Moer's style ought to have fun with it. It's also the first book where Hildegunst von Mythenmerz is introduced, which alone makes it worth a read.

When buying this one, I also noticed that the sequel to his Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher had arrived: Das Labyrinth der Träumenden Bücher! Only out in hardcover so far, but I'm very much looking forward to reading it later :) And there's apparantly a third part coming out in about a year, swell!
dancing_moon: My books: Never enough shelf space (books)
[insert maniacal laughter of the Mwahahaha- variant here]

With school, and work, and tons of other brain-exhausting things that needed to be done this autumn, my reading really slowed down. Now, I am addicted to texts, so it's not as if I stopped reading altogether - but I chose easier fare than books (not counting the school stuff). Thus it took me months to finish Der Schrecksenmeister by Walter Moers, which is a record for me if one only counts books I liked.

Because I did like this one, a great deal even. While not quite as perfect a blend of nonsense, thrilling moments and overwhelming book-nerdishness as his Die Stadt der Träumenden Bucher, it was still very funny and engaging.

The plot is rather simple; Echo, a talking magical cat-like animal (a Kratze, or Crat in the English translation) is on the verge of starving to death when his mistress dies. The Schrecksenmeister (Alchemaster) sees him and realizes that Echo is just the ingredient he needs to fulfill his life work. Thus, they make a deal: For one month, Echo will be given the best of foods one can imagine and when the time is up, he'll end up in the alchemical soup, after a fast, painless death. Of course it isn't as simple as that, but the plot on the whole follows this line.
What makes Moers so fascinating (and DIFFICULT for a German-third-language speakers such as myself) is the way he plays with words. Put it like this: I almost think he could teach Pratchett a trick or two...

Take the title; Schrecksenmeister. The Master of the Schrecksen - and what is that? Well... it's a fantastical being that only exists in Moers fantasy-world Zamonien. They're are part witches, part horrible dragon-thingies and culturally very much like the jews of Medieval towns - blamed for all kinds of ills, forced to follow special laws and generally treated quite badly, though the populace still buys their services.

The Master of the Schrecksen then, is the man that keeps them "in line" and Eißpin, the Schrecksenmeister of this tale, is one of the most horrible creations of fiction I've seen- An utterly ruthless genius alchemist who does not stand above cheating, lies, torture and murder to get what he wants. Manages to be both so evil and impressive that you don't know whether to hate and despise or hate and admire by the end of the book.

This is not a book for those who want straight to-the-point prose; Moers obviously loves his Zamonian details, wordplays and flights of fancy. It is, however, enjoyable to follow along with all the little side-roads in this story, because his sense of style is perfect and he evokes plenty of images with a few well-chosen words. Like the name of the town where it all takes place: Sledwaya, the unwholesomest city of Zamonia. To me, the description and the name of the story immediately woke images of the polluted cities of Eastern Europe, and as the story unfolds and we learn of Eißpin's cruel reign over the citizens, the image only felt more true.

To be honest, though I haven't read it, I am highly mistrustful of the English translation.

Translation thoughts )

But hey - in whatever language you can get your hands on this book, do give it a try. It's not every book that keeps my interest (and memory of the plot so fresh!) that I keep reading it, nibble by nibble, for several months. It's also got lots of wonderfully creepy illustrations, wicked humor and some rather fantastical culinary images.

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May 2012

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