The History of History: A Novel of Berlin
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2002. A young American woman stumbles one morning from the forest outside Berlin - hands dirty, clothes torn. She can remember nothing of the night. She returns to the life she once knew, but soon an enigmatic letter arrives from an unknown doctor claiming to be 'concerned for her fate'. Shortly after, the city of Berlin transforms. Nazi ghosts manifest as preening falcons; buildings turn to flesh. This is the story of Margaret's descent into madness and her race to recover her lost history - the night in the forest and the chasm that opened in her life as a result. Awash with guilt, Margaret finds her amnesia resonating - more and more clamorously - with two suppressed tragedies of Berlin's darkest hour. Harrowing and provocative, beguiling in its lyricism and sensuality, "The History of History" tells a tale of obsessive love, family ruptures, and a nation's grief. And it is an elegy to 'the history of history' - the role of the German past in the psychic life of the present age. With this first novel, third-year-old Ida Hattemer-Higgins establishes herself as as bold, inventive and gifted writer.
decomposing biodegradables, also a glass jar full of pickles! The letters, at least—he could easily see the names of the addressees. He would have a look at them, and then take the matter up with those individuals later. He heard the main door to the apartment house open. Sunlight broke through from the carriage entryway. He poked forth his head. Ah, it was the American. He rustled through the trash again, watching her out of the corner of his eye. The foreign girl was a difficult case. She
cleared her throat. “Yes, that’s right. I was happy as I was.” “And now you say nothing has changed, and that makes you upset?” “Well, no. Something has changed! The city is made of fat. My life is poisoned.” This was truly how she felt in the days since the Sachsenhausen tour and the skittering mice. “Aha!” the doctor cried, a cat after a dangling string. “So! It worked after all! Tell me, why is your life ‘poisoned’ as you say?” “I’m doing the things I usually do—” “Quite right,” the
follow them? Can I possibly be like them? Do I have the character? Character or not, she would try. She could not stop herself from trying. And if she could manage it, if she could manage to swim in their wake—Margaret lay her head back on the sofa and closed her eyes, her happiness swooping back in a rash of light. It came to her, chanted as though a triumphant rhyme, washing her with its purple, the lullaby of possibilities. The swallows would speak. The clock would take back its numbers;
quit abruptly and left off for the navy blue of the pine forest. She stopped still. She would not walk forward into the Grunewald Forest. As surely as the seagull with flute-hollow bones cannot fly into the storm, she could not go on. She decided her bicycle was the way to make an effort at proceeding. It was the only way of having more momentum than fear. She mounted the bike and set off precariously. She rode along the brambled path. Her heart beat but her speed was a salvation. She pedaled,
He trusted that with her devotion to the church, she would never be unfaithful to him. Margaret Taub, on the other hand, not a religious girl, had never once lashed out or been unkind, never done a harsh thing, never even ribbed him. Her love for him had disarmed her, she said. This was gratifying to Amadeus, made him feel the conqueror, but also made Margaret a bit unexciting. Submissiveness had its uses, but she was certainly no “true love” as Asja was. When Margaret finally did begin to turn