May 25th, 2005


HHGG Reading Group - Don't Panic!

...which is exactly what I feel like doing!

It's my first (proper) meeting for chairing the discussion and my choice of book - "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galazy" - what else?

But, we've got 13 people coming, which is probably too many, and I don't know how to organise it. I love the book and I worry that no-one else will. What if I run out of questions and then we all sit there in silence ?

Bar Muenz is also being a bit funny. They say they've reserved us a table, but then the woman was wittering on about a Tapas evening, but thought it was probably ok that we were there!

On the good side, lots of people coming are real fans of the book, plus I get to go and see the film in the Kinoimhb cinema festival afterwards!

Das New York Tagebuch: Else Buschheuer

This is one of the most unusual and compelling books I've read in a long time. The book is the printed version of Else Buschheuer's online diary, which she wrote between July and November 2001. She was working in New York for Aufbau, a monthly Jewish magazine.

The diary covers her experiences of living in and loving New York and is full of her impressions of the city: the sightseeing she did, the culture, the people. Also the books she reads and the films she sees. She's also a bookcrosser at heart - at one point she leaves "White Teeth" by Zadie Smith at Newark Airport!

Her language is unusual and playful. She makes up new words to express what she's feeling and experiencing. At times she writes without punctuation, almost like a stream of consciousness (which makes it hard for a non-German reader to understand!). She writes with humour, compassion and love of the city around her and its inhabitants.

But there's another side. We know already what happens on 11th September, and as we read the diary through August and September, we sense the impending disaster, even though (of course) Else doesn't.

The second half of the book is Else's experiences of the attack on the twin towers, her survival in a physical sense, but also her battle with the loneliness, fear and terror of this time. She mourns the physical loss of the towers from the New York Skyline. Her diary describes how this event changes everything, even her ability to read and enjoy books. It tells of her struggle to return to normality.

“Es war einen Moment lang so..normal. Ich ass einen Hot Dog (den ersten seitdem) und Roasted Peanuts (die ersten seitdem). Ich sah die glitzernden Farben ueberall und hatte den Wunsch, tief tief Luft zu holen, tiefer als es einem Menschen moeglich ist.” s.214