selenak: (Schreiben by Poisoninjest)
[personal profile] selenak
Back when I marathon-read Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series, I saw he's also authored a lot of novels for children, and had a new one coming out this month, a standalone called Frederick the Great Detective, which, however, mysteriously seems to be available in German before it is in English. (Mysterious because Kerr's Scottish and writes in English, and the novel, which got released today, is indeed translated from the English original, I checked the imprint.) Anyway, the novel has a very similar premise to a movie I saw at last year's Munich Film Festival, Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday - the review I wrote about the film is here: boy falls in love with Emil and the Detectives, befriends its author, Erich Kästner, in the twilight of the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich ensues, boy tries to maintain ideals of novel versus increasingly awful reality. Having read the novel now, I can add a further parallel: both Friedrich in Frederick the Great Detective and Hans in Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday have an older sibling who is enthusastically joining the Nazi cause. My original suspicion as to why Kerr picked a fictional main character instead of Hans, who actually existed and did befriend Erich Kästner, was because Hans' fate was sealed by history, and that Kerr wanted a better fate for his young hero. Spoilers ensue. )However, by that point, I had already guessed various other reasons why Kerr chose a fictional over a fictionalized "real" main character, and the differences to Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday are instructive here.

For starters, there's the difference in focus: Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday is, as far as Hans is concerned, a coming of age story - he goes from child to teenager and young man in the course of the story - and has Erich Kästner as the other lead, whose perspective through the movie is even the slightly favored one. Frederick the Great Detective, by contrast, has Kästner only as a supporting character, aside from a prologue and an epilogue ends in late 1933/early 1934, and is above all a homage to Kästner's novel in structure, focusing on Friedrich and his same-age friends, who play detectives until it gets lethally dangerous. (The adults, whether benevolent or malignant or in between, are seen from the outside, the point of view is Friedrich's throughout.) For, befitting the author of the Gunther mysteries, there are actually cases to solve. (Though as opposed to Bernie, young Friedrich - who wants to become a detective through much of the novel - gets the point that you can't be a detective in a system where the criminals have taken over when Kästner desperately tells him just this.)

Indeed, while reading I wondered whether the basic idea for the novel might not have been a wish to write a sequel to Emil which tackles how Emil & Co. would act when the Third Reich starts, because Friedrich's gang with its twins has some similarities. Then again, Friedrich has a distinctly different background to Emil (or Hans Löhr) - no working class single parent mother, instead, middle class parents with his father a journalist and friend of Kästner's, which is the original connection, which allows Kerr to depict the way the press lost its freedom within a year. It also allows Kerr to let Friedrich and his parents vacation on Rügen where Friedrich meets Christopher Isherwood and Isherwood's boyfriend Heinz on the beach. (Leading to a charming scene where Friedrich manages to solve his very first case by finding Isherwood's lost watch.) Kerr provides quite a lot of real life characters making cameos throughout the novel - Billy Wilder (during the premiere of the "Emil and the Detectives" movie version which he scripted), Max Liebermann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Walter Trier etc. - but the Isherwood cameo was for me the most vivid of these. (And I'm not surprised, having come across an interview where Kerr says bascially Berlin for him as a reader, before he got there, was invented by two British writers, Christopher Isherwood and John Le Carré.)

Kästner himself lis of course the real life character with the most page time, but he feels more like a generic version of Kästner's author persona than an actual attempt at depiction of the man. (As opposed to the Kästner in Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday.) Meaning: he's a benevolent adult the way, say, Justus the Teacher in "Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer" is, with no hint of any inner conflicts, and Kerr slims down the biographical and authorial data about him to "wrote Emil and the Detective, also works as a journalist"; in this book, there are no mentions of either Kästner's other books for children or his adult novel, Fabian (the one who got burned by the Nazis at the 1933 book burning), nor of his sharp political poetry (which in Germany he was and is almost as well known for as for his prose). (Hence ahistorically Emil ends up as the burned book, when in rl Emil and the Detectives was so popular that it got published, as the only one of Kästner's works, within Germany until 1936. Then it was for the axe as well.) The one biographical background fact about Kästner mentioned in conversation by Friedrich's father is in fact a wrong one, or rather, a wrong assumption, that Kästner's mother, like Emil's, raised her son alone. In rl, not only was Kästner's father around and in contact with his son, but he outlived Kästner's mother. There is, however, a reason why I didn't mind this particular wrong statement, which is: Kästner kept his father and his relationship with him very low key as long as his mother was still alive, while his relationship with his mother was intense and very public, so a colleague from work like Friedrich's father could be forgiven for assuming the guy was either dead or had left the family. ( If you've read Kästner's autobiographical writings, one of the most memorable childhood scenes which makes you cringe in sympathy is his parents' christmas competition about him, when his father, a craftsman, proudly presented presents he made with his own hand while his mother spent all her money on presents, and both parents would regard whichever present their son showed any favour to as proof whom he loved more or a rejection respectively. And thus it went on for as long as Kästner's mother lived.)

What the novel does really well, though, is presenting a group of children responding to their world changing radically, and Friedrich as a likeable child hero who ends up rejecting the demagogery, scapegoating and promise of glory that lures his older brother in because he sees how both people he knows and strangers are abused in its name. Again, in an homage to Kästner's novel which has a memorable dream sequence, Friedrich's ongoing crisis of conscience and wonder how to avoid becoming a Nazi himself climaxes in a surreal dream where the various things he has experienced come together. The lesson he draws from this is simple and profound at the same time, very Kästnerian and indeed great advice in current day circumstances as well, to the question as ow to act: Be kind. Being kind and you can't become what you fear and hate. Be kind.

Mind you, the 1945 prologue and epilogue does spoilery things ) But all in all, Frederick the Great Detective is still a very readable children's novel set in a dark time which also manages to pay homage to a classic while being its own thing.

"Home away from home"

22 September 2017 03:07 am
rosefox: A bearded man in a yarmulke shouting L'CHAIM! (Judaism)
[personal profile] rosefox
Selichot )

Rosh Hashanah )

It's genuinely disorienting to encounter all these spaces where I don't have to educate anyone or fight to be seen for who I am. Other people have already done that work, and leaders have clearly been receptive to it. (Rabbi Lippman is queer, but I don't assume that cis queer people will be welcoming to or understanding of trans people, especially nonbinary trans people.) I get to just show up and be a human being in human community. What an immense privilege. What a gift. Honestly, that might be the thing that gets me to stick with this—just the pure pleasure of being in a place where I didn't personally have to claw out a space for myself.

Josh met me and Kit in the park and we walked for a while (GMaps Pedometer says I walked 3.2 miles today, most of it pushing a heavy stroller with a heavy toddler; my feet and arms are very tired). I teased him that he should be glad I didn't make him meet the rabbi. But this is my thing, really. Maybe it's my latest three-month hobby. Maybe it'll be more than that. We'll see.

iPods

21 September 2017 10:53 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Haven't been around long enough for an adult to reference the technology as something around when they were kids. That's just crazy talk -- 16 years ago, you say?
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • In this unseasonably warm September, Toronto tenants need more air conditioning than some landlords provide. The Toronto Star reports.

  • NOW Toronto notes the launch of a new Kent Monkman canvas, this one depicting a Dutch-Iroquois treaty signing.

  • The bizarre story of an ISIS supporter who tried to attack people at a Canadian Tire store is getting more bizarre. The Toronto Star reports.

  • There is a possibility the Ontario minimum wage increase could hurt employment outside of well-off Toronto. The Globe and Mail reports.

rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • If the separatists of Catalonia are triggering a confrontation with the Spanish government to create a majority ... Open Democracy reports.

  • Speaking as someone who could be classified as a settler himself, positioning myself and my arguments is key. MacLean's notes the importance of sensitivity to First Nations issues.

  • The United Kingdom does seem likely to get the selective access to the EU's markets post-Brexit some want. Bloomberg reports.

  • Expensive avocado exports are but some of the complications that could hit North America if NAFTA gets changed. Bloomberg reports.

  • Iceland, again, is displaying particular caution towards potentially overwhelming Chinese investment projects. Bloomberg reports.

yhlee: snowflake (StoryNexus: snowflake)
[personal profile] yhlee
[Note: I used Cheris and Jedao as my playtest characters when working on Winterstrike, a StoryNexus game I wrote for Failbetter Games.]

"I can't believe you didn't think it was worth telling me that we're living inside a game," Jedao was saying.

Cheris sighed. "I didn't tell you," she said, "because you wouldn't be able to shut up about it, and it's hard being a good playtest character when someone keeps ranting." cut for Ninefox spoilers, I guess? )

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

21 September 2017 01:10 pm
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of dispatching a fleet of sail-equipped probes to map the asteroid belt.

  • Crux considers the importance of the invention of zero for mathematics.

  • D-Brief notes that Scotland's oldest snow patch is set to melt imminently.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper looking at the stability of multiplanetary systems in star clusters.

  • Imageo notes the modest recovery of icecaps in the Arctic this summer.

  • Language Log notes the importance of Kazakhstan's shift to using the Latin script for the Kazakh language.

  • The LRB Blog reports on a writer's visit to Helsinki.

  • The Map Room Blog notes a giant relief map of Guatemala, built to reinforce claims to what is now Belize.

  • The NYR Daily considers the continued salience of race in the fragile liberal-democratic world, in America and Europe.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer wonders if the heavy-handed Spanish government is trying to trigger Catalonian independence.

  • Roads and Kingdoms considers the palm wine of Senegal, and its vendors.

  • Understanding Society considers the Holocaust, as an experience sociological and otherwise.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy makes a libertarian case for open borders.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi celebrates his meeting mutual fan Alison Moyet.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Belarus' cautious Belarusianization is met by Russia's pro-Soviet nostalgia.

rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
The Cavendish Cemetery, on the southwest corner of the intersection of routes 6 and 13, is famous around the world as the place where Lucy Maud Montgomery rests in eternal peace. Alongside her are buried many of her relatives, including her mother and her maternal grandparents, MacNeills all. A sign at the entrance asks visits not to leave artificial flowers.

Approaching Cavendish Cemetery #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #cavendishcemetery #latergram


Graves of MacNeills #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #cavendishcemetery #lmmontgomery #macneill #grave #latergram


Entrance #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #cavendishcemetery #lmmontgomery #latergram
rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
The newly-opened Trillium Park and William G. David Trail, part of the ongoing redevelopment of Ontario Place, is superb. Though the landscaping is still raw, just three months after the parks opening, the bones are good ones. Walking along the trail on a beautiful warm evening, seeing the park full of people enjoying the grass or the concert or the views of the lake and the Toronto Islands, I knew this park is a success.

Entering Trillium Park

Looking east

Path ahead

Two routes

Trail tree

Gathered for the concert (1)

Gathered for the concert (2)

Looking at Hanlan's Point

Looking at Billy Bishop

Overlooking

Hough's Glade

Evening in the park

Walking by boats on the lake
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
I've a brief post noting the devastation of the Caribbean this hurricane season. What will come next? And how can the peoples of the Caribbean survive in an area of the world facing such regular devastation?
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • io9 has an interesting article looking at how the success of Disney's film Moana is driving Maori pride in New Zealand.

  • New Now Next lists eight of the top LGBTQ bookstores of North America and Europe, including Toronto's Glad Day.

  • 24 hours on an artificial beach, sheltered under a hanger deep in east Germany, turns out to be quite fulfilling. VICE
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Climate change is making the famous tea of Darjeeling much more difficult to come by. VICE reports.

  • Wired notes Fitbits are useful tracking devices for scientists engaged in studies, too. (I always wear mine.)

  • I entirely approve of this new Niagara College program. Why not legalize and professionalize cannabis agriculture?

  • This VICE interview with bringing the Truvada needed for inexpensive PrEP across the border into Canada is of note.

  • A new study suggests that Planet Nine, if it exists, was likely not captured by the young sun but formed here. Universe Today reports.

[ObMeme]

20 September 2017 05:27 pm
yhlee: I am a cilantro writer (cilantro photo) (cilantro writer)
[personal profile] yhlee
By way of [personal profile] thistleingrey, because I need a break. On the bright side, I finished a short story today. :D

Read more... )

art accountability

20 September 2017 04:19 pm
yhlee: wax seal (Default)
[personal profile] yhlee
Sunday's sketch of the Dragon while we were getting food:


(Dammit, I like life drawing, even if I'm too n00b to be good at it. Joe says I have been getting better since I started a few years back though.)

Pen: Pelikan M205 Aqumarine (F nib)
Ink: Diamine Eclipse

Moving on from heads to eyes and lips? )

I haven't gotten back to Ctrl+Paint because life has been busy, but yesterday my art accountability was working on a Thing in Photoshop, mainly blocking in values.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • While I get why the TTC would promote its top ranking on its vehicles, the optics of significant cost for this promotion are terrible.

  • Bay and Bloor, Avenue Road and Bloor, Bay and King--these are the top intersections for condo resellers.

  • I get why Bombardier workers would want to support their employer versus Bombardier with a brief strike, and be justified in doing so. Just--well, optics.

  • Can the Centreville carousel be kept in Toronto? I suppose it would be nice if they could get the funding.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

20 September 2017 02:29 pm
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald

  • Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait notes the continuing maps and naming of the Pluto system.

  • Centauri Dreams considers one method to detect photosynthesis on Earth-like worlds of red dwarf stars.

  • D-Brief notes the discovery of Octlantis, a permanent community of octopi located off the coast of Australia.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes Earth-like world can co-exist with a Jovian in a circumstellar habitable zone.

  • Hornet Stories notes that Morrissey is now in Twitter. (This will not go well.

  • Language Log notes the kanji tattoo of one American neo-Nazi.

  • The LRB Blog notes how the English town of Tewksbury is still recovering from massive flooding a decade later.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the improbable life of Barry Sadler, he of "The Ballad of the Green Berets".

  • The Map Room Blog shares this terrifying map examining the rain footprint of Hurricane Irma.

  • Spacing reviews a fascinating dual biography of architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson.

  • Window on Eurasia notes an call to restore to maps the old Chinese name for former Chinese Tuva, Uryankhai.

rfmcdonald: (photo)
[personal profile] rfmcdonald
The Haunted Woods Trail is one of the major trails extending from the Green Gables house. This one extends east, into a patch of second-growth forest that has grown up on farmland abandoned since the National Park's creation in the early 20th century, on lands that--we are told, by signposts--are marked by the historic presence of Montgomery.

Haunted Woods Trail (1) #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #hauntedwoodstrail #greengables


Haunted Woods Trail (2) #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #hauntedwoodstrail #greengables


Haunted Woods Trail (3) #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #hauntedwoodstrail #greengables


Haunted Woods Trail (4) #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #hauntedwoodstrail #greengables


Haunted Woods Trail (5) #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #hauntedwoodstrail #greengables


Haunted Woods Trail (6) #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #hauntedwoodstrail #greengables


Haunted Woods Trail (7) #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #hauntedwoodstrail #greengables


Haunted Woods Trail (8) #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #hauntedwoodstrail #greengables


Haunted Woods Trail (9) #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #hauntedwoodstrail #greengables

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