Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shorter Days by Anna Katharina Hahn

 Shorter Days
 by Anna Katharina Hahn, Translated from German by Anne Posten
 Frisch & Co, 2014, 270 pages, Kindle ed.
(Originally published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2009 as Kürzere Tage)

One day, when my daughter and I came home from a shopping trip, my husband asked, "How did it go?"

My daughter replied, "Well, we saw a part of Stuttgart we'd never seen before."

"What part was that?"

"The part you see when you are lost."

This book took me back to those streets, that same neighborhood. I had such a good time with this. I followed the characters around town with Google maps, happy that Stuttgart is one of the German places that still has street view.

Hmmm, getting lost these days is a lot different than it was back in 1986 when I drove around in circles with no GPS, no cell phone, and a knowledge of German that seemed to vanish when I needed it most.

I had no problems with this book. I found the characters and their situations every bit as interesting as the setting. But the reading was such a  personal experience that it is difficult to be objective. And it wasn't just the setting.

The description of Judith as a Waldorf mother took me even further back than my time in Germany. I was briefly involved with a Waldorf School, in California, years ago. I remember being alternately impressed, intrigued, and appalled by the "Waldorf Method," the "Waldorf Movement," the "Steiner Theosophy," etc. Hahn really nails it with her description of the ridged rules and routines that Judith tries to follow.

Then there's Leonie, the working mother with all the emotional baggage that goes with that. I've been there, too. And Luise, a much older woman facing the end of a long marriage. Again, Hahn gets it right.

So this turns out to be more of a reverie than a review. So be it. That's one of the many things that reading can be.


  1. You know, this is one of my favourite German books of the last decade. I loved it. I haven't been in Stuttgart, I'm no mother, but it resonated a lot with me. I'm very glad you liked this as much. I wouldn't want to review it in detail either because the book is wonderful but it's mostly because it puts us in such a special mood.

  2. Your post of October 1 is what called my attention to this book. Thank you! Frisch & Co is publishing some good ones. I liked Anatomy of a Night by Anna Kim (qualifies as German Lit) and Adrián N. Bravi's The Combover. (Does anyone do an Italian Lit month?)


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