“Tyll” – Daniel Kehlmann (1/5 ★)

Life is too short to be reading books that you don’t enjoy.

If I’d actually be living by that mantra, I wouldn’t have finished this book. My opinion is highly subjective though, since I actually really liked one of Daniel Kehlmann’s previous books, “Ruhm“. Nevertheless, I literally had to force myself to get through “Tyll”, so I can’t give it anything higher than a 1 out of 5 star rating.

I don’t have much to elaborate on, it was just that neither the characters, nor the plot managed to captivate my interest. The only two passages that I highlighted while reading the book, were the every now & then reappearing descriptions of the German language that made me chuckle:

“Wahrscheinlich lag es an der klobigen Sprache; das war keine Sprache fürs Theater, ein Gebräu von Stöhnlauten und harten Grunzern war das, es war eine Sprache, die klang, als kämpfte einer gegen das Würgen, als hätte ein Rind einen Hustenanfall, als käme jemandem sein Bier aus der Nase.” (p. 230)

The second one being one of the character’s thoughts on how difficult & almost impossible it is to find the right words for the most traumatic experiences in your life, the way you would need to borrow them from someone else, to tell those stories to other people:

“Schon damals ahnte er, dass das alles in seinem Buch einst anders berichtet werden müsste. Keine Beschreibung würde ihm gelingen, denn alles würde sich entziehen, und die Sätze, die er formen konnte, würden nicht zu den Bildern in seinem Gedächtnis passen. (…) Die Sätze wollten sich nicht fügen. Und so stahl er andere. In einem beliebten Roman fand er eine Beschreibung, die ihm gefiel, (…) es passte nicht recht, (…) aber das störte keinen, nie fragte jemand nach.” (p. 223-224)

Daniel Kehlmann’s writing was beautiful, so that wasn’t the problem with the story. I simply once again got the confirmation that I personally am not a fan of historical fiction whatsoever. If you aren’t either, I’d suggest you to stay away from this book, even though it has been nominated on the long list of the International Booker Prize for 2020.

★☆☆☆☆ (1/5)

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