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PDF/EPUB Birgit Vanderbeke Ñ Das Muschelessen PDF/EPUB ☆ Ñ

The modern German classic that has shaped an entire generationA mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels Why has the father not returned home? As the evening wears on we glimpse the issues that are tearing this family apart 'I wrote this book in August 1989 just before the Fall of the Berlin Wall I wanted to understand how revolutions start It seemed logical to use the figure of a tyrannical father and turn the story into a German family saga' Birgit VanderbekeWhy Peirene chose to publish this book'I love this monologue It's the first Peirene book which made me laugh out loud with tears in my eyes The author lays bare the contradictory logic of an inflexible mind This is a poignant yet hilarious narrative with a brilliant ending' Meike Ziervogel


10 thoughts on “Das Muschelessen

  1. says:

    A fine continuous narrative that slowly reveals details and the nature of a family's life under a repressive patriarch This is in the form of a stream of consciousness monologue by the daughter of the family while she sits with her mother and younger brother waiting for the father to come homeIt is nicely done but I did not love it I think for three reasons off the top of my head firstly I had just read Fleur Jaeggy's S S Proleterka which is a far densely interwoven and compelling narrative that reveals and conceals the inner life of a family secondly repressive patriarch stories just remind me of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch thirdly the author's comment that she wanted to explore the nature of revolutions I think she succeeded in showing the psychology of the repressed family and by analogy of the repressed country but this is about why revolutions do not occur to my mind and as one observes despite many horrendous situations round the world; revolutions mostly do not occurStill this is a neat bit of work that carefully and slowly reveals itself to the reader I found it on the bookshelves at home it was one of my father's old books he was not so secretly a fan of misery in the Arts which he felt to be veracity a sure sign of the affect of having worked in child protection


  2. says:

    This novella is about a man who is unexpectedly late for a dinner that is made in his honor and to tell you the truth I know this guy In fact I was once married to this guy And you might also know this guy as a matter of fact if you have ever been with someone for whom everything is perfect; but it's perfect only because you are working so damn hard to make sure nothing ever upsets him because if he gets upset it's going to be your fault obviously and bad things will happen and they will also be your fault And as you read The Mussel Feast you will marvel at how completely Birgit Vanderbeke has captured this guy we both know and you might like me be happily surprised by what happens next


  3. says:

    From the publisher blurbA mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels Why has the father not returned home? As the evening wears on we glimpse the issues that are tearing this family apart'I wrote this book in August 1989 just before the Fall of the Berlin Wall I wanted to understand how revolutions start It seemed logical to use the figure of a tyrannical father and turn the story into a German family saga' Birgit VanderbekePeirene intentionally publishes shorter read in one sitting translated works it would have been hard to take much of this one in the sense that you really get a sense of the dictator father and how his behavior has controlled the family It is told from the perspective of the oldest daughter and at least in the ebook there are no chapter or paragraph breaks It's like being in the family yourself oppressed with no end in sight I know it's supposed to be a metaphor for East Berlin and the wall coming down or something like this but it's also an uncomfortably accurate depiction of how one tyrannical person can limit the lives of the people he controls okay I see it now this is also what happens in oppressive regimes got itThe novel starts with the mother cleaning mussels for her husband's homecoming he expects meals to be a certain way and she complies even though as she has said on multiple occasions she does not herself care for mussels Everything must be done his wayAnother point in the novel it says Music my father said was pure excess and would never get any engine started He said this because ever since their escape to the West my mother’s violin had lain in their bedroom wardrobe and only occasionally He also refuses to go to the mountains for vacation criticizes her appearance and wardrobe and won't let the narrator play the pianoI loved the ending and will look for from this press I was happy to read this from the books I already had for Women in Translation month; this is translated from the German


  4. says:

    It was neither a sign nor a coincidence that we were going to have mussels that evening what we’d had in mind when we were planning the mussel feast was pretty insignificant certainly less important than the immensity and gravity of what actually happened This book was published by the UK small press Peirene Press “a boutiue publishing house with a traditional commitment to first class European literature in high uality translation” and whose style is described by the TLS as “Two hour books to be devoured in a single sitting; literary cinema for those fatigued by film”This book is a perfect example of the genre A 1990 publication which in Germany has become a school set text and which has been translated across Europe but until this 2013 publication not in English; A 100 page monologue set in a single evening and thus ideally designed to be consumed over an eveningThe teenage female narrator her teenage brother and their mother sit at a dining table where thy have prepared a large pot of mussels waiting for the father of the family some form of logician and lecturer to return home from a business trip where he should have all but clinched an important promotion The family live in the West having escaped from the East The father figure is clearly tyrannical strongly opinionated particularly on the notion of a proper family how it should behave and how its members should be and act Everything in our lives revolved around us having to behave as if we were a proper family – and simultaneously disappointed for example in the area of education with the lies of the East and the degeneracy of the West The other family members individually and collectively adapt to their father’s moods and wishes suffering individual abuse when they fall short of them and also being pressured by him to blab inform on each other and unwilling to dissent in private due to the risk of other family members blagging By now as it was already seven o’clock and he still hadn’t arrived my father was undermining his own notions As the evening progresses and it becomes increasingly clear that the father is firstly late and then that he may not return at all the mood of the family changes they dare to openly share their own harsh views of their father and collectively and individually begin to break free of his tyrannyThe book was written just before the fall of the Berlin Wall as the grip of the East Germany state on its citizens started to collapse and serves on many levels as an allegory for that revolution both in the views and actions of the father and the family just as one example the father's frustration and anger at his family's failure to behave as a proper family could be taken as an analogy for the failure of any Communist state to live even close to Marxist ideals and even in the ever present and freuently referenced pot of musselsAn excellent read


  5. says:

    Many of the UK book blogs I read love certain boutiue presses though until now I'd viewed these publishers as a bit too precious The blogs are nice to read because they're usually good natured than er Goodreads it's just that I have a misanthopic side too and am hardly ever bothered about fancy editions On actually looking at Peirene Press' website for the first time in the run up to the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize I wanted to find out about their recent titles I saw how very well their books suit my taste they specialise in newly translated European fiction with plenty from Northern and Eastern Europe serious but not so heavyweight as say Krasznahorkai; all books are under 200 pages yay; they print paperbacks which don't have excessively twee designs or separate dustjackets and the company even supports a cause I particularly like a charity providing counselling for people on low incomes And as Peirene only releases three new titles a year organised around a theme it's not a tall order to read them all The 2013 theme was turning points; The Mussel Feast only 105 pages was written in Germany just before the fall of the Berlin Wall For the now shaky Communist state it uses the allegory of a nuclear family with a tyrannical father who is unexpectedly late home one evening; the titular meal his favourite has been prepared; his wife son and daughter don't much like it In its transparency the allegory reminded me of the Czechoslovak New Wave film A Report on the Party and the Guests or The Garden Party and other plays by Vaclav Havel a collection I read a couple of years ago however The Mussel Feast works better than these as its own story not only as symbolism and because of this I found it involving Narrated by the eldest child the 18 year old daughter it conveys terribly well yet simply the constricting atmosphere of a family with rigid rules in which you're usually frightened and the obvious similarity of this with a political dictatorship The thought pattern of difficult parent being late home glad about it freedom to breathe for a few minutes but tension as they could be there any minute have they had a car crash hope they won't be coming back but is that them now was terribly familiar from numerous childhood days German Wikipedia implies the book is semi autobiographical which I can well believe The absence of 1980s cultural references must relate to this the writer is about 15 years older than the narrator but this does give a sense of claustrophobia and being cut off that suits the subject The nameless girl's account of their family life is easy to read yet characterised by repetition action related with little emotion nasty things elided with phrases at once ominous and innocuous then my Sunday was over after father was displeased about something these and a style simpler than her implied intelligence all give the sense of a life during which branches of thought and feeling had to be cauterised as part of larger adaptation and survival In some ways the expression is uite ordered most of it is straightforward to understand reflecting the predictability of the tyranny the narrator grew up in; yet trauma secretly unmanaged terror and suppressed life force bubble underneath the narrative's events and ideas sometimes blur into one another and paragraphs are very long In a speaker with freedom of expression the tone would be breathless but here that headlong rush is disguised by someone who has mathematical and logical rather than artistic strengths and who has had to learn over many years how to make things sound presentable to a person with particularly unrelenting standards The author later commented about writing the book I wanted to understand how revolutions start I haven't actually studied the history of any modern revolutions in depth beyond school level though what she shows rings true with the fall of Eastern Bloc Communism as seen on the news the father's absence signifying gradual reform or the earlier toleration of Solidarity makes it possible for people who hadn't previously spoken up to share their thoughts and to begin to actA number of positive reviews mention finding the book funny; for me it was literally too close to home and too well realised for that but if you have the detachment to laugh at the absurdity of dictatorial people and their expectations you may be amused It's a shame The Mussel Feast wasn't translated earlier as it would have been of great interest in the early 90s when the political events were still fresh in everyone's minds


  6. says:

    That was the longest and most exhilarating paragraph I've ever read The teenage daughter unveils the architecture of her family warped by her despotic father She packs in all of the excuses the hardships the twisted explanations that decorate the miseries of his rule It is psychologically astute uncannily so It stands on its own for that portrait of the family But then when one considers the author's intention I wrote this book in August 1989 just before the Fall of the Berlin Wall I wanted to understand how revolutions start It seemed logical to use the figure of a tyrannical father and turn the story into a German family saga it becomes a fascinating account of the rise and fall of tyrannical regimes Terrific Loved the ending


  7. says:

    Birgit Vanderbeke's The Mussel Feast is a classic in the author's native Germany where it was published to critical and popular acclaim in 1990 It won the prestigious German language literature award the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize that same year It has recently been translated into English by London based Peirene PressI loved this book so much I read it twice — when it initially came out in May and then again last weekend It's a tiny package but reading it is like peeling an onion there are so many layers that it's almost impossible to appreciate them all first time roundOn the face of it the story appears to be a very simple one A woman and her two teenage children sit around the dinner table awaiting the arrival of the patriarch of the family whom they expect to return home with news of a promotion at work A celebratory feast of mussels and wine has been prepared But the father is late and there is no word from him to explain his delay Why has he not called? Has he been in an accident?In the meantime — as the mussels grow cold and the wine gets consumed — the daughter begins to recall memories of her father and his role in the family This is when the story takes on a deeper purpose to show that there is going on than meets the eyeWhat emerges is a rather startling portrait of a tyrannical man whose idealised version of what constitutes a family and family life can never reach his unrealistic expectations And instead of drawing everyone together he has splintered his family apart by his funny notions and cruel ways It is essentially a metaphor for East and West Germany reflecting the time period in which the book was written shortly before the fall of the Berlin WallTo read the rest of my review please visit my blog


  8. says:

    The family – mother daughter and son – sit at the dinner table waiting for the father to join them in sharing a mussel feast While they are waiting – the father is expected any minute with good news on his promotion – their chatting moves from a casual exchange on the day to something sensitive personal to the daughter of the house Is it a coincidence that that particular evening the atmosphere is different the the narrator wonders is it an omen of things to come? Yes it was slightly unusual and afterwards we sometimes spoke of the mussels as a sign but they definitely weren't; After the event of course we tried to interpret our decision From the novella's first sentences Birgit Vanderbeke draws the reader into a kind of mystery into a strange atmosphere at the dinner table that turns into something increasingly ominous Told from the perspective of the daughter the narrative changes in tone as the evening progresses and Mum in particular grows and concerned about her husband's absence The children appear to be enjoying the short period of freedom the time without the father's strict control over the evening's event They don't really like eating mussels neither does the motherVanderbeke takes the concept of monologue in this story to a different level of complexity as she blends the daughter's feelings and her memories of less than enjoyable encounters with the father with recounting what takes place at the dinner table and the comments and dialog taking place Initially the three keep up polite appearances and are careful with the way they express their thoughts in case Father comes in and overhears their conversation and Mum is still in her wifey mode But as time passes each of them relaxes into a new level of confidence sharing about their life and in particular their father's behaviour towards the young people and the motherSlowly but surely the author through the daughter's voice unravels not only the parents' background and the children's life so far In doing so she fundamentally challenges the father's dogmatic concept of the normal family his constant critiue of the children and his wife Like a piece of knitting held together by uneven stitches it can unravel from the seams once you start Vanderbeke does so with sensitivity and great skill in terms of pacing the back stories with the revelations about the interrelationships within the family At times especially in the earlier parts lighthearted yet astute observations and a sense of irony enliven the daughter's musings Still the underlying concerns are never lost In contrast to his behaviour at home where the father constantly criticizes the children and his wife for not being up to his level stands his professional life or at least what the daughter can glean about it success generosity and joviality The reader is constantly compelled to ask Where can mother and children go from this moment in time? What will they say to the father? How to approach the future in a different way? A thought provoking read at numerous levels There are aspects that hint at a specific period in time in Germany 1989 – the time of the spontaneous demonstrations often started by small groups of people spreading across East Germany eventually contributing in a major way to the Fall of the Berlin Wall Families were still confined within the established authority structures yet these were breaking down In this sense one can see in Vanderbeke's novella of one family a representation of impending dramatic change Personally I can also shift the story back in time by several decades to my own youth when scenarios similar to the one depicted here were not uncommon the uneasy relationships within and between generations as well as the loss of trust of traditional role models and authority patterns in the post war period At the broader level of course the story can be taken as reflecting universal uestions on family values role models and generational change Das Mussel Fest was Vanderbeke's debut fiction work which immediately won her the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 1990 Despite having published numerous books to some acclaim and awards this is the first that has been translated into English In translation The Mussel Feast was shortlisted for the International Foreign Fiction Prize 2014


  9. says:

    25 starsright off the bat what drew me to vanderbeke's writing was her ability to write sly cutting observations about the state of her story's family unit by the end of the book you have a pretty clear sense of the network of dysfunction that's both this family unit's makeup and dissolution vanderbeke's narrative is also one wherein small moments take on monumental implications unravel entrenched ways of living and i think that's why the the mussel feast is ultimately so effective as the central motif that the narrative hinges onwhere this book lost my interest unfortunately is in the looseness of its narrative; its plot meandered and so conseuently did my attention i know it's technically a novella rather than a novel but i still wanted the mussel feast to have some kind of structure undergirding its story this is not to say that this story is one without merit though it maybe reuires a particular kind of reader but there is a reader out there who will enjoy it i think


  10. says:

    That escalated uickly The Mussel Feast is written in a claustrophobic breathless voice that makes it virtually impossible to find any sort of pausing point Bow to the semicolon A family—mom sister brother—sits at the dinner table after preparing a mussel feast for a tyrannical father who never shows up At first the story seems comical narrated by the snarky mussel loathing sister and daughter Dad seems merely uirky and grouchy but as the narrative matures he is revealed as an abusive unhappy tyrant who lives to belittle and degrade his family The family relaxes when not under the grip of their paternal figure constantly dreading his homecoming The division of East and West Berlin permeates the novel even if it is rarely directly addressed When the moment of truth approaches the family in the form of an interminably ringing telephone it is ignored The mussel feast is thrown away We don't know what will happenThis is Vanderbeke's only work to be translated into English as far as I can tell anyway and I really hope there are translations planned for the future