When Fathers Beard Was Still Red
book — Germany — 1958

I have this project, you see - there`s a list of German-writing authors who`s work I want to become familiar with. And among those 78 persons there`s this Mr. Schnurre here. This work is called "a novel of stories" or something similar to that. And this is exactly what it is - we get short (mostly) stories from a boy`s childhood that aren`t really connected one to another apart from the fact that it`s the same boy`s life we read about in all those stories. It`s the 20`s-30`s Germany where he grows up - in the poverty with the nazis rising. But these stories are mostly positive, although not too happy. His dad has no work most of the time, so he spends it with his son, trying to make a jolly good childhood for the boy, and he succeeds at that. Among the stories the standouts are "The Gift" about the boy`s first love (at the age of something like 5) who dies from a disease but since she had assured him that death is not bad he doesn`t get sad about that and people surrounding him think he has no heart. It`s not the only great story, of course, the book is very humane, and it`s easy to read, although it describes no beautiful fantasy world. And what it reminds me of is "Bille" - a novel of stories by Vizma Belsevica - a Latvian writer - that was in the same stylistics only in a much more minor key. Not that I think that there`s any connection between these two books.
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