When an author says goodbye to his characters
Genre: semiautobiographical novel
⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 3.94
⭐️Stars from me: 5
The last time I felt this scent of Berlin was during school Chemistry classes where the curriculum was going one way, and I was going the other, swallowing up novels of Erich Maria Remarque at the back of the classroom, barely acknowledging the lessons.
It felt strange now, decades later, to suddenly smell that Berlin again, in Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin novel. Isherwood, of course, is very different. He and Remarque have similar Berlin but different characters. Isherwood zooms in on people, while Berlin as they knew it, is disappearing. It’s 1930s and these people don’t know what’s coming. Those who feel it, push it away from their consciousness. Nobody believes in the possibilities of the atrocities that are about to happen. They are carrying on with their lives. It feels eerily relevant and familiar to be reading that.
The storylines are snippets of lives: a Jewish rich family and a gay couple. Your skins crawls because you know what’s coming for them. The book doesn’t get to this, at least not in details. It’s not a book on history. It doesn’t even seem to have any global agenda. The book is about the people Christopher Isherwood knew and Berlin that he had to say goodbye to.