Henrik's ROOTing is more needed than ever

Discussão2023 ROOT CHALLENGE

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Henrik's ROOTing is more needed than ever

Editado: Ago 27, 3:19 am

2022 was a very satisfying year of ROOTing. I managed 55 which was 5 more than my goal. It was also a great year of book-buying, so Mount TBR is even more out of hand...

My goal in 2023 will once again be 50 ROOTs. As I have done in previous years I will count everything owned as ROOTs. The really tough ones (acquired before 2014) will be labelled DROOTs (Deep roots).

This year my goal will be 50 books. Happy ROOTing everyone!

1. Washington Irving: Bracebridge Hall or The Humorists
2. Harper Lee: Dræb ikke en sangfugl
3. Delphine de Vigan: Dage uden sult
4. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris
5. Cyril Lieron og Benoit Dahan: Den skandaløse billet 2
6. Anna Seghers: Et rejsemøde
7. James Joyce: Ulysses
8. Patricia Highsmith: Tom Ripleys talent
9. Javier Cercas: Bedrageren
10. Toni Morrison: Tar Baby
11. Stine Pilgaard: Meter i sekundet
12. Yasunari Kawabata: Snelandet
13. Rasmus Nikolajsen: Måske sjælen
14. Carl-Henning Wijkmark: Dræsinen
15. Stan Lee og Jack Kirby: Mighty Marvel Masterworks X-Men vol 1
16. Dennis Grabowsky: Berlin - Damals & Heute
17. Kerstin Ekman: Ulvespring
18. Robert Seethaler: Das Café ohne Namen

1. Stefan Zweig: Skaknovelle
2. Shirin Ebadi: Iranske erindringer

Editado: Jul 6, 12:16 pm

My main goal this year is of course 55 ROOTs but like the last two years I also have a secondary goal. Not reading the books I buy myself is one thing, but not having read the ones people have given me as gifts is embarrassing.

So, this year my supplementary goal wil be finally getting through all those nice gifts:

Michel de Montaigne: Essays
Henning Grelle: Thorvald Stauning
Karl Popper: Det åbne samfund og dets fjender
Søren Mørch: Store forandringer
Pia Friis Laneth: Lillys Danmarkshistorie

André Brink: Philida

Harper Lee: Dræb ikke en sangfugl
Gunnar Svendsen mfl.: Vækst og vilkår på landet
Niels Boje Groth: Stationsbyer i dag
Søren Marquardt Frederiksen: Pestlægen
Bo Tao Michaelis og Bente Scavenius: Danmarksbilleder

Tove Ditlevsen: Små hverdagsproblemer
Delphine de Vigan: Dage uden sult
Andrea Wulff: Opfindelsen af naturen
Thomas Mann: Et upolitisk menneskes betragtninger

William Shakespeare: Samlede skuespil i ny oversættelse bind III
Ann-Christine Hellerup Brandt: Grøn aftensmad: Valdemarsro

Morten Pape: Guds bedste børn
Anne-Lise Marstrand Jørgensen: Margrethe I
Colson Whitehead: Drengene fra Nickel
Elizabeth Strout: Olive Kitteridge
Jesper Clemmensen: Skibet fra helvede

J.D. Salinger: Griberen i rugen
Jeanette Varberg: Vikinger
Rasmus Nikolajsen: Måske Sjælen
Thorkild Bjørnvig: Pagten
Nadezja Mandelstam: Med håb mod håb
Mark Millar: Kick-Ass
Aline og Robert Crumb: Tegn på kærlighed
Cyril Lieron: Den skandaløse billet 2

Maren Uthaug: 11%
Charles Dickes: A Tale of Two Cities
Anne Brontë: Agnes Grey
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter

Jan 2, 7:35 am

Welcome back Henrik! I think reading gifts is a really good goal - I have so many unread gifts looking at me and making me feel so guilty!

Jan 2, 10:40 am

>3 Jackie_K: Thanks. And I'm kind of happy I'm not the only one with an "unread gift" problem.

Jan 2, 10:57 am

>4 Henrik_Madsen: Indeed. Sometimes I feel like such a terrible person! So it's good to be in good company :)

Jan 2, 1:35 pm

Welcome back! You are not alone in the unread gift department.

Jan 2, 1:56 pm

Welcome back and have fun reading those unread gifts! I should see how many books tagged as "christmas" I still have to read...

Jan 3, 7:33 am

Good to see you back - looking forward to seeing what you thought of your gifts!

Jan 3, 3:16 pm

Thanks all - as always I’m among kindred spirits in this fine group!

Jan 4, 12:27 pm

Good luck with your ROOTing and DROOTing. Those books that have been lingering on the shelves for a long, long time can be difficult to tackle. I'm not sure why that is though. Maybe newer books just seem more appealing.

Jan 4, 12:46 pm

Welcome back, and happy reading in 2023.

Jan 5, 5:41 am

Welcome back, Henrik! It's a comfort to see I'm not the only one happy to receive books as a gift and then to neglect them...good luck with catching up!

Jan 5, 8:05 am

Happy New Year, Henrik and welcome to a new year of ROOTing

Jan 5, 5:09 pm

Oh what a good goal -- the gift reading. I'm especially intrigued by the 2020 entry that looks like a cookbook, and whether it will inspire you to prepare something.

Editado: Jan 6, 2:24 am

>14 detailmuse: Oh, Grøn aftensmad (Green Dinners) is indeed a cook book containing lots of vegetarian dishes - and we have already made a good number of them. I rarely read cook books cover-to-cover, so the question for me is: How much do I have to read from it to declare it "read"? We will see.

Jan 7, 11:42 am

>15 Henrik_Madsen: Sounds like a good collection. I love to read cookbooks, noting ingredients and envisioning the preparation process, then marking those I want to try. I'd like to get to the actual trying part of more this year :)

Jan 7, 11:44 am

1. Washington Irving: Bracebridge Hall or The Humorists

Acquired: I downloaded this from Project Gutenberg last fall, and I have been reading it bit by bit since then.

The narrator is an American in England in the early 19th century. He visits an old country estate, Bracebridge Hall, where he observes the life and customs of the people living in and around the estate. There is a very loose structure with some recurring characters and there love affairs. There are also three separate stories which they read to each other during the book.

Honestly, the writing felt a bit dated - the three longer stories especially, they were way to wordy and way to romantic. Actully I liked the author's welcome and goodbye the best, because he very interestingly constructed himself as an observer and outsider from the new world.

2 stars

Editado: Jan 13, 4:02 pm

Non-ROOT: Iben Mondrup: Vittu

Vitus, called Vittu, is born on Greenland and adopted by a Danish couple, when he is a small and vulnerable boy. He is not, however, the only person with af troublesome past. He is adopted by Stig and Alice, and Alice has fled all the way from France to Denmark to get away from her father, and even though there is no doubt she loves Vittu, there is something very disturbing in her relationship to the boy.

Vittu is a very good novel dealing with he complicated Danish-Greenlandic relationship and describing an intense but unhealthy relationship between a mother and a vulnerable child.

4 stars

Jan 16, 4:55 pm

Non-ROOT: Samuel Butler: Det land Erewhon

The narrator has travelled to un unnamed colony to discover new land and to make a name and a fortune for himself. After a dangerous journey he comes to Erewhon (anagram for nowhere) a prosperous country with beautiful people and strange costums. Those are, of course, the main theme of the book as the fictional country is used to discuss ideas about society and religion.

Others have travelled to a Utopia / Dystopia before, so the idea is not original, but I think Butler adds something to the genre. Some of the ideas discussed are interesting (sickness is considered a crime and moral lapses are merely seen as something to be pitied and treated e.g.) and the norms of the fictional society is described in great depth and complexity.

3½ stars

Jan 21, 4:44 pm

2. Harper Lee: Dræb ikke en sangfugl

Acquired: This was a gift from my parents in law for my birthday in 2018. Reading it now is part of my "clean up your gifts!" project for 2023

This American classic is set in Alabama in the 1930s. The narrator is a little girl, Scout who lives a normal but rather priviledged life in a small town. Her mother is dead, but she is close with her older brother Jem and their father Atticus Finch. He is part of the local elite as an attorney and a member of state legislature. Still, the hate is intense when he accepts the defense of Tom Robinson, an African-American man who is accused of raping a white woman. The case lets Lee investigate the inner workings of the racist and divided community.

I very much enjoyed the book. Telling the story from the point of view of the children works really well, and the novel is not just important for American history, it is also simply an entertaining story. To Kill a Mockingbird could not have been written today. It is not just the frequent use of the N-words, it is also the fact that the separation between the two communities is taken for granted and kind of accepted. Still, you cannot deny it's importance.

4½ stars

Jan 22, 5:46 am

>20 Henrik_Madsen: And what a great gift it was if you gave it 4,5 stars.

Jan 24, 2:52 pm

>21 connie53: Yep, that was a great gift. I'm really happy I finally got round to reading it.

Jan 24, 3:07 pm

3. Stefan Zweig: Skaknovelle (re-read)

Acquired: I first read the book in 1998, probably shortly after buying it. I re-read it now for the monthly read in the 1001 group.

On a cruise ship between New York and Buenos Aires a chess match between the world champion and a group of enthusiasts take place. The amateurs are on the verge of losing when a stranger interrupts the game and guides them to a draw. Who is this person? It turns out he is an Austrian in exile after being jailed and tortured by Nazis after the invasion in 1938. He was confined in total isolation without any stimuli until he manages to steal a small book with chess games. After re-playing them countless times he starts playing with himself as an abstract mind game, and soon he has such a "chess poison" that he cannot stop again. Now on the ship, he decides to play one game against the master...

I remembered most of the story from my reading 25 years ago, so it definitely has staying power. I enjoyed the psychologic study of Dr. B and how the extreme pressure turned a game into an obession and a disease.

4 stars

Jan 25, 4:48 am

>20 Henrik_Madsen: I am so glad you enjoyed this - it was one of my favorites when I was at school (though maybe because I wasn't required to read it...)

Jan 25, 3:33 pm

>24 Caramellunacy: NOT being required reading can do a lot for a book! But I think you would have liked anyway. It's chosen point of view is very easy for children and young people to relate to, and even though the acceptance of segregation seems dated, the book otherwise feels fresh. Good dialogue and there are several relatable side-characters as well.

Have you re-read it since?

Jan 26, 5:06 am

>25 Henrik_Madsen: Not in far too long. I recently saw the stage adaptation, which added quite a different perspective (and made me want to re-read the original). I just need to pick it up

Editado: Jan 31, 1:46 am

4. Delphine de Vigan: Dage uden sult (Days without hunger - the Danish title is a direct translation of the French original Jours sans faim)

Acquired: In 2019 my son was just getting old enough to start buying his own gifts for birthdays in the family, so I made sure to include some cheap books from the local book store on my wish list. He gave me this one, which I had seen after reading her brlliant Alt må vige for natten

Laure is 19 and only weighs 36 kg when she lets herself hospitalize in Paris. We follow her life in the ward during some months as she slowly gains weight and finds her way back to life. The book is an interesting study of social life in the hospital and a fine psychological study of a young woman struggling in life. Interestingly enough, the key to her cure is the relationship to her doctor. Nothing inappropriate happens, but she is clearly in love with him, and that helps her through.

de Vigan writes beautifully and engaging, and it was good to read a novel about eating disorder which holds out the promise of getting well.

3½ stars

Fev 2, 5:34 pm

Belatedly visiting your thread, Henrik. Well done on exceeding your goal last year!

You’re off to a good start for 2023 - I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, which I read as a teenager along with the excellent Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton - as if being a teenager wasn’t depressing enough in itself.

I read Chess a couple of years ago and admired the writing - such a lot of tension in a small book. Enjoyed his Amok and Other Stories too.

I empathise with the gift book problem - decided last year that they should immediately become ROOTs to minimise the chance of them gathering dust long-term! Good luck with getting ahead of the TBR pile in 2023.

Fev 4, 6:48 am

>28 floremolla: Thanks for dropping by. I like your idea of making gifts immediate ROOTs, but it isn't a solution for me. Years ago I decided to make every book owned a ROOT, because it took some of the joy away from reading, if doing one of the new books NEVER counted towards the goal.

Being able to set up the challenge like you want to, is one of the great things about the ROOT-group.

Editado: Fev 4, 7:04 am

5. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris

Acquired: Last year I took part in a meeting in Odense, where I lived for ten years before moving to my present location, and decided to do a little bookshopping. I ended up with this, which I had wanted to read for a long time.

Kris Kelvin is a psychologist who soon discovers, that something is terribly wrong when he arrives at the spacestation circling the planet Solaris. Solaris is "inhabited" by a living ocean spanning most of the surface, and after decades of exploration, it seems contact has finally been made. The planet has created perfect copies of people from the astronauts' past. As Kelvin tries to comprehend what this means, he retells what the 'Solarists' have so far discovered about the planet.

I really enjoyed how Lem expanded on his original idea and how he managed to create a whole branch of science about the ocean without anthropomorphizing it. Man just can't understand it, and the exploration of this idea is interesting. The dialogue is a bit dated and the social patterns of the future apparantly aligns 1:1 with the norms of the 1950s but that is ok.

4 stars

Fev 5, 10:34 am

Good books!

>20 Henrik_Madsen: To Kill a Mockingbird could not have been written today.
I confess to pessimism regarding that: I see the segregation and discrimination still being lived today. And I fear some states here might soon ban a book like that.

Fev 17, 7:05 am

Non-ROOT: Gabrielle Roy: Blikfløjten

Florentine is a young girl living with her large, kind, and poor family in Montreal. It's spring 1940 and everything is in a flux. Florentine works in a café but she dreams about true love, which she thinks she can have with Jean, but he is more concerned with his own ambitions. Meanwhile, her family keeps sinking deeper in poverty, because her father has been broken by unemployment and the depression. Things are looking bleak, and if you have read similar novels from other countries you know they will get worse.

Still, there are some possibilities because of the war. The economy is growing, new careers open up, and of course there is the army which is ready to offer a nice but dangerous salary to (almost) everybody.

It is not a bad novel, and using the war as a positive opportunity is an interesting twist, but I still found the writing a bit heavy with too many descriptions and too many adjectives.

3 stars

Fev 17, 2:05 pm

6. Cyril Lieron og Benoit Dahan: Den skandaløse billet 2

Acquired: A Christmas gift from my parents in law last year.

Sherlock Holmes and dr. Watson are still trying to find the culprit behind a series of kidnappings. There are some obvious Chinese connections and they only grow stronger as some traces point to the Opium Wars. We are, once again, in the mind of Sherlock as he analyzes clues and try to figure out what is actually happening.

The art is brilliant and I enjoyed the story and the ending's post-colonial feel, even if it didn't quite live up the first volume.

4 stars

Fev 18, 9:55 am

7. Anna Seghers: Et rejsemøde og andre fortællinger

Acquired: I bought the book back in 2017 when I was looking for books by authors from the 1001 list. Seghers is indeed on the list but this collection is not...

The small volume contains three stories by Seghers, who grew up in Mainz before WWI, became a communist activist in the 1920s, fled to Mexico during the Nazi rule, and returned to Eastern Germany where she became head of the authors' association. Her most famous novels were written in exile and focus on the rise of nazism and the refugee experience.

The title story sets up a fictional meeting between Gogol, Hoffmann and Kafka in a café in Prague in the 1920s. It is an interesting take on some of her favorite authors and also a work in the fantastic genre. The most famous story is 'The Excursion of the Dead Girls' where the narrator situated in Mexico thinks back on a school trip and what has become of the group of gilrs in Mainz. Nothing good, as the title indicates. The last story traces a Jewish family through four generations and reminded me of other Jewish writers like Joseph Roth.

A good collection which made me want to read more by Seghers.

3½ stars

Fev 19, 8:14 am

Just saying Hi, Henrik so 'Hi'.

Fev 19, 2:04 pm

Fev 19, 2:23 pm

Jun 3, 7:43 am

8. James Joyce: Ulysses

Acquired: I got this book back in 2015, shortly after a new translation was published in Danish. Since then, yet another translation has become available, which is pretty insane considering the length and complexity of the book.

Most people probably know, that Joyce's classic from 1922 is loosely moulded after the Odyssey by Homer, that it takes place over the course of one day in Dublin - Leopold Bloom is much faster than the original hero who spent ten years at war and ten years travelling before returning to his Penelope - and that it's a modernist and experimental piece of literature.

All of that is true but it is definitely not the whole story. It is a long book (800 pages), and it is not just an experiment in style but a whole series of experiments with different styles of writing. A chapter written so it emulates the development of the English language from the Middle Ages onward, a chapter written as a script for a play etc. It is both impressive and overwhelming

It is not an easy book to read, but not incredibly difficult either. I had to concentrate and chose to accept not understanding everything to appreciate the flow of writing more, but with those caveats the book was surprisingly fresh and the characters felt very much like people, not modern versions of ancient myths.

4 stars

So finally back. I have read some long and demanding books, been crazy busy at work, and done some other things.

Jun 3, 8:43 am

Well done on reading Ulysses! And welcome back!

Jun 3, 11:54 am

Welcome back! And kudos for tackling such an intimidating book.

Jun 4, 11:07 am

>39 rabbitprincess: >40 MissWatson: Thanks! It was a bit daunting, and obviously turned out to be a long read. But rewarding!

Editado: Jun 10, 6:02 am

9. Patricia Highsmith: Tom Ripleys talent (The Danish translation litterally means 'Tom Ripley's Talent' - it's just not as good a title as the original version)

Acquired: My parents-in-law cleaned out their house and moved to an appartment shortly before covid. I managed to rescue some books for my own collection - including this 1980s paperback.

On the surface Tom Ripley is boringly normal, but he is also an ambitious young man who will stop at nothing to get the comfortable and wealthy lifestyle, which his own family background denies him. He gets his chance when is hired to travel to Italy to pursuade young Dickie Greenleaf to give up his dream of painting and instead return home.

Once there he befriends Greenleaf and his girlfriend, but he also identifies which his life of leisure. He doesn't just want the money he has earned, he wants to BE Dickie Greenleaf, and why should he not take what he wants by force?

The novel is a slowly developing thriller. Just like Greenleaf you get to know Ripley as an ordinary young man. It is not easy to see that he completely lacks empathy or that he is extremely dangerous. What really fascinated me, though, was his incredible self composure. He is truly a master of never giving up, always playing the (poor) card he is dealt and somehow getting away with it.

4 stars

Editado: Jul 5, 9:02 am

11. Toni Morrison: Tar Baby

Acquired: I went to a local fair last year - and looked for books of course!

The rich Street couple have moved to a Carribean Island where they live with their black servants Sydney and Ondine. Their niece Jadine is home for Christmas as well to chaperone Margaret Street and to repay Valerian Street who has sponsored her education. On the surface relations are amicable and the tone between servants and masters friendly. They could be considered one big family, but the appearance of another black man, Son, disturbs the equilibrium, and soon conflicts stemming from race and class differences surface.

I enjoyed the novel quite a lot. Morrison is a brilliant writer and her study of the fault lines of American society is always interesting.

4 stars

Editado: Jul 6, 9:24 am

12. Stine Pilgaard: Meter i Sekundet

This was a reread. I bought the book when it was published, loved it and now chose it for my live-action book club this month. I still liked the humor and the storytelling a lot, but I wasn't blown away as I was the first time.

4 stars

Jul 6, 9:35 am

13. Yasunari Kawabata: Snelandet

Acquired: The publisher talked me into buying this one at the Copenhagen book fair last november. I didn't know it before

Shimamura is a wealthy and indolent Japanese man who travel to the mountains for leisure. After a hiking trip he get to know the young geisha Komoko, and he is so fascinated by her that he returns after the snow has fallen. The novel focuses ont he relationship between the man and the young girl. They are obviously attracted to eachother but the balance of power is very asymetrical. Komoko is more emotionally involved as well, but she is also the most interesting character in the book. She is interested in literature and art, and she is very outspoken.

I enjoyed the story and the insight into a society I don't know very well. It is a short and well composed book and well worth a read.

4 stars

Jul 6, 12:14 pm

14. Rasmus Nikolajsen: Måske sjælen

Acquired: A Christmas gift from my wife last year. She gave it to me, even though she is complaining about my many books - perhaps that's why she chose the smallest volume on my wish list!

Rasmus Nikolajsen writes about a dramatic event in his family history. During the second world war his grandparents were leading members of the Danish resistance, and when Gestapo came knocking on their door one day, his pregnant grandmother had to flee. But she could only bring one of her children and had to leave her infant son - the author's father - behind. This dilemma as well as Nikolajsen's own experience as a father fuels the book, which is written in short prose-verses.

Måske sjælen (Maybe the Soul) is a short and interesting read, but probably not one I will remember for a long time

3 stars

Editado: Jul 21, 4:07 pm

15. Shirin Ebadi: Iranske erindringer

Acquired: This is my wife's book - she got it as a gift, probably in 2010

A fine memoir by the Iranian woman who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her work to help victims of the Islamic regime. It is also a story about the country that she loves deeply and would never leave despite who weighty criticisms of the current political environment.

3 stars

Jul 21, 4:05 pm

16. Carl-Henning Wijkmark: Dræsinen

Acquired: This Swedish novel from 1983 was only translated into Danish in 2015 - I got it from my book-club that same year

Can you discuss the origin of man, the role of mankind in it's natural state, the political heritage of the 19th Century in a novel featuring a Jesuit who has lost his faith and three apes of some unknown variety crossing the Atlantic on a trolley? Wijkmark can. The story is as unrealistic as they come, but I really enjoyed the tale about Henri Moulin, who was working at a Belgian railroad camp in 1914 when three strange apes emerged from the jungle and seemed to be the answer to the search for the missing link in human evolutionary work.

The novel is written with great historical knowledge and philosophical depth but it is also an entertaining story about a special group of "friends" overcoming many obstacles on their way.

4 stars

Jul 30, 6:30 am

17. Stan Lee og Jack Kirby: Mighty Marvel Masterworks X-Men vol 1

Acquired: As noted earlier I have started reading super hero comics again - and also started buying them again. I bought this one at the Copenhagen Comics fair in May.

This volume collects the first 10 issues of X-Men, one of many series created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for Marvel in the early 1960s. The X-Men is a group of teenage mutants headed by professor Xavier. They fight Magneto and his evil mutants because they believe in peaceful coexistence between man and mutant - whereas Magneto wants to conquer and rule.

This volumes mostly centers on the conflict with Magneto as characters are developed and some of the basic themes of prejudice and racism are introduced.

4 stars

Three for the stories, one for the fan pleasure of seeing the first appearance of beloved characters.

Jul 31, 4:25 am

>48 Henrik_Madsen: This sounds very interesting!

Ago 1, 8:54 am

>50 MissWatson: It is. I have read books which touch on one aspect or the other of the book, but never anything quite like the novel as a whole.

Editado: Ago 2, 3:23 pm

18. Dennis Grabowsky: Berlin - Damals & Heute

Acquired: A couple of weeks ago we decided to go to Berlin by bike. It is a long trip, so lugage was limited and we just had to buy our books instead of bringing them. This one included

It is a book about Berlin. Grabowsky compares a historic photography with modern one and tells the story of the place in a short text. In total around 65 places are described and there are both very known and more obscure ones.

I think I was the perfect audience for the book. It is not a guidebook for the newcomer or a history of the city providing an overview. But when you know the city and it's story quite well it adds new wrinkles and new inspiration for places to see.

3 stars

Ago 20, 4:30 am

Hi Henrik, glad to see you back. I can see the reading is picking up again! Good for you.

Ago 20, 11:42 am

>53 connie53: Thanks Connie! It's good to be back, and summer is always a good reading period for me. :-)

Ago 20, 11:53 am

19. Kerstin Ekman: Ulvespring

Acquired: One of the last books i bought from my book club before it turned in last year.

Ulf Norrstieg has just stopped working after a long career in the Swedish forest administration. Now it is time to enjoy his wife, his dog and his hunting, but one morning he has an experience which changes his perception of everything. At dawn he observes a lone wolf at the edge of his bog. He immidiately identifies with the beautiful animal, but he also starts questioning his old beliefs. It is really right to treat nature and other living beings as merely means to your own enrichment?

Ekman is a veteran whose books always contain interesting charachters, elements from the crime genre and interesting thoughts on life and art. I enjoyed this short book a lot.

4 stars

Ago 21, 2:41 am

>54 Henrik_Madsen: Same here. I love sitting in my back yard with a nice book to read.

Ago 27, 3:18 am

20. Robert Seethaler: Das Café ohne Namen

Acquired: As noted earlier we went to Berlin this summer - this was the second book I bought there.

The book is set i Vienna starting in 1966 and concluding about ten years later. The main character is Robert Simon, a war orphan, who opens a café near the Carmelitter Square. It becomes a regular place for the locals, and the book is primarily a portrait of the local community around it. There are colorful characters but also subtle changes as traditional stores are threatened by supermarkets, buildings are bought by larger companies and drugs are introduced.

Still, it is a happy setting for normal life with all its ups and downs. The pace is slow even when quite dramatic things happen. I enjoyed it as a portrait of a place and a past not that long ago, but I could have used a bit more plot and a bit more character development.

3 stars