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Freewheeling Andy

Field Study - Rachel Seiffert

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First I need to declare an interest: Rachel was in my year at school, and one of my best friends from school was very good friends with her.

 

Anyway, she was nominated for a Booker for her first novel, and this is her first collection of short stories. It seems that many of the themes from the novel are carried through into the more interesting of the stories.

 

I guess you could categorise them into the political and non-political. The non-political ones seem to be non-stories, really, and I didn't much enjoy them. They're "family does something, er, that's it" vignettes that might have worked in school creative writing, but I don't think they do much for me.

 

The better stuff is the "political". Rachel has German parents, and has been living in Berlin for a while now. And the interesting stories are about the jarring nature of the interaction of German past with German present, either of the Nazi and war-time past jutting up against modern liberal Germany; or equally hard, the jarring of the communist East jutting up against modern, commercial Germany. These, plus stories set across eastern European frontiers, show fascinating insight into the contrasts that exist, and more crucially (and less widely reported) the impacts of these contrasts on individuals and families.

 

Anyway, half of these stories are great. Half are just a bit dull, really.

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