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Seven Lies (2005)

af James Lasdun

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1578133,226 (3.29)31
"Part political thriller, part meditation on the nature of desire and betrayal, Seven Lies tells the story of Stefan Vogel, a young man growing up in East Germany, whose yearnings for love, glory, and freedom express themselves in a lifelong fantasy of going to America. By a series of blackly comic and increasingly dangerous maneuvers, he contrives to make his fantasy come true, finding himself not only in the country of his dreams but also married to the woman he idolizes. America seems everything he expected, and meanwhile his secrets are safely locked away behind the Berlin Wall. A new life of unbounded bliss seems to have been granted to him. And then the world begins to fall apart."--BOOK JACKET.… (mere)
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» Se også 31 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 8 (næste | vis alle)
Seven Lies is not the easiest book to read. While many I'm sure, myself occasionally included, will trip from time to time over the vocabulary used to write this book I find what makes the book hardest to read it the attitude of the main character whose perspective the story is told from. In parts of this book he seems to be just alive not diminishing not improving not happy nor sad just there and in his period of just existing I find myself easily distracted still reading but off in my head somewhere else and I'll be two or three paragraphs ahead before I realize I'm not really reading the book but instead thinking of things I should do today or that I need to get something in particular done at work today. And that may not seem uncommon to some but when I read I forget the entire world and everything in it and all that exists is the words written on the pages so for me to be easily distracted while reading is rare with the exception of reading textbooks for classes I'm not in love with.
Yet despite the struggle to continue to read and focus that comes every so often in this book I find I still enjoyed it. This book is what it was meant to be and if written any different would not portray what I feel it was meant to portray. I feel this is one of those books that the more times you read it the more you see, understand, and are able to take from it. I also feel that with multiple reads I will more enjoy it more and will have to improve my rating of it.
I recommend this book to people looking for something different. If you buy all of your books from the shelves of a book section in a supermarket(and there is nothing wrong with that) then this is not the book for you. If you read nothing but high action and adventure books, fantasy, or paranormal this book is not for you. Now if you enjoy a specific genre of books but still read bits of other things and are open minded to different types of books then I think you should give this book a shot. I would love to tell you that if you like book A and B then you should read this book but I have yet to read a book quite like this one. ( )
  MissMajicMarker | Oct 25, 2011 |
I was living in Munich when the old Stasi (East German secret police) files were opened. It was a wrenching experience for many, and fought against for many years. People went and looked at their files and discovered which of their friends and even family members had informed on them. Many others didn't want to know, still others watched their lives collapse as it was revealed that they'd been Stasi informers. The numbers were staggering and it seemed as if half of the DDR had been carefully watching the other half.

Seven Lies by James Lasdun takes place first in East Berlin in the seventies and then in New York in the early nineties. Stefan Vogel grew up in the family of man rising through the diplomatic service. There begin to be whispers that he and his family will be sent to New York. Stefan's mother is proud and ambitious and her husband's rise justifies her feeling that they are a cut above everybody else. Then, a small error derails everything and Stefan's family falls from the higher reaches of the political elite. The father grows passive, his mother becomes ambitious now for her sons and Stefan, now an outcast at school, will do what he needs to do to fall in with her vision of him as a poet.

The book begins with Stefan's attendance at a party in New York where a young woman approaches him and throws a glass of wine in his face. From that moment, Stefan is unmoored from his pleasant, quiet life in New York state with his wife, Inge, and forced to come to terms with his childhood and what happened that allowed him and his wife to leave East Germany so many years earlier. ( )
16 stem RidgewayGirl | Jan 19, 2011 |
A short, uncomfortable novel that relates the story of Stefan Vogel, who left East Germany with his wife in 1986 to go live in the United States. The story starts in 2003 or so, then goes back to his childhood up to the time leading up to his departure, describing the circumstances that led up to it. The characters aren't very likeable, not even in a love-to-hate way - throughout I just felt a kind of contemptuous pity. They are all, unfortunately, the products of living under an oppressive regime. Still, the book had an interesting structure and was quite powerful - I think it may be one that would reward rereading and I will definitely look out for Lasdun's other novel The Horned Man. ( )
1 stem scohva | Jan 8, 2010 |
Seven Lies, by James Lasdun, tells the story of Stefan Vogel, a young man who grew up in East Germany, but is now living in the United States.

When the novel opens, Stefan is at a party in New York. A woman says to him, " Excuse me, are you Stefan Vogel?" When he confirms his identity, the woman throws a glass of wine in his face. Stefan is stunned and confused. Who is this woman? Why did she throw her wine in his face? As Stefan ponders these questions, he looks back on his life in the GDR and on the events that brought him to America.

Stefan grew up in East Berlin in a privileged family. His father was in the diplomatic service, negotiating the Friendship Treaties between the GDR and other Eastern Bloc countries. His work took him to New York frequently, and he often brought back exotic foreign presents for his family - Slinkies, diving watches, perfumes, bottles of Schaad-Neumann aquavit, Stefan's mother had an ostentatious pretension about her, and made it known to anyone who would listen that at any moment, her family will be posted to New York City.

When this plan falls through due to the father's ineptitude, she hurriedly recasts the family as intellectuals, desperate to assert the family's superiority over others. She gathers artists, writers, and actors into the family's bosom, and begins to host salons. At one of these events, Stefan's mother begins to introduce him as their "literary man" and the family's "poet-intellectual." Stefan doesn't question the lie; indeed, he supports it, bribing their building superintendent with a bottle of aquavit to let him into the family's basement storage locker, where he copies out a poem from a volume of World Poetry in Translation. At the next salon, he presents this forgery as his own work:

I celebrate myself, myself I sing

And my beliefs are yours, as

everything

I have is yours, each atom. So

we laze -

My soul and I - passing the

summer days

Observing spears of grass...

This establishes Stefan as a liar, and he observes:

"It seems to me that at the age of thirteen, I had already developed the cynicism of a seventy-year-old dictator."

Stefan continues his pattern of lying one day when he arrives home from school to find his mother accusing his brother Otto of stealing on of the bottles of aquavit that Stefan has been using to bribe the building superintendent. Instead of rightfully taking the blame, Stefan lets Otto take the fall, and in the process, assists in the breakdown of the relationship between Otto and his mother.

Stefan falls out of favor with his classmates, who tease him mercilessly and call him "sloth." He becomes depressed and lethargic, and turns inward, describing himself in this way:

"During this period I formed the idea that every phenomenon that comes into being represents a victory in a struggle against a force willing it not to come into being. I pictured this opposing force as a kind of Chinese Dragon, a Dragon of Stability, jealously guarding the status quo. It patrolled the borders between occupied and unoccupied space, and it lay curled and scowling at the threshold of every possible action. In order to open a window one must first slay the dragon posted to ensure that the closed window remain forever closed. The fire these dragons breathed took the form of waves of paralyzing inertia, a breath of which was enough to overcome you unless you had extraordinary vitality as well as unshakable belief in the importance of what you wanted to do. More and more I found myself defeated before I could even move. Was it worth the almighty struggle, the expenditure of limited energy, to open that window, when after all nothing material would be changed by doing so, and when, even if I succeeded, another dragon would immediately be posted to ensure the now-open window would now remain forever open? Increasingly, it seemed not."

After attending Humboldt University, Stefan goes to work for a government organization, where his job is to create propaganda that promotes "Peace, Friendship and Anti-Imperialist Solidarity." He discovers that he is surprisingly good at this.

One evening, Stefan attends a performance of an avant-garde play in the Prenzlauer Berg, a region of East Berlin resembling the East Village. The play is called Macbrecht, and is a farcical rendition of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Walter and Clara, friends of Stefan's mother with whom he attends the play, pronounce it banal, and leave early. Stefan, however, is captivated by the actress Inge, and returns to see the play alone a few nights later. Stefan describes that Inge's "allure for me had something to do with the suggestion of a violently destructive power at her disposal." While Stefan is observing Inge, men in dark clothes rush the stage and march off some of the actors, who Stefan belatedly notices are wearing anti-government badges of a swords-to-plowshares insignia.

The crowd disperses, and as he is leaving, Stefan is randomly invited to a party at somewhere called Menzer's place by Margarete, a stranger and Menzer's sister. The party is located in a bohemian squat, and is filled with political rebels and various artists. The group is rowdy and vocal, criticizing art and the government in equal measures. Menzer even has his own Stasi member tailing him, and is on such good terms with him that he invites him up to the party.

Stefan meets Inge at the party, and after this first encounter, he goes back repeatedly, attempting to win her love, although she has a fiance. Again, he misrepresents himself, asserting to Menzer's crowd that he is a poet, and stretching the truth even further, that his poems will be published by the literary magazine Sinn und Form. He ends up trying to pull strings with his Uncle Heinrich to support this lie.

Eventually, after Inge's fiance supposedly rejects her, Stefan declares his love for her and tempts her into being with him in exchange for the promise of exit visas to America for the pair of them.

Their fantasy materializes. Stefan's Uncle Heinrich assists with the exit visas. They fly to New York City, and live in the East Village, in an apartment above a homeless shelter, where they work in exchange for their lodging. Stefan, through a connection of his father's, makes a useful contact and begins to work at her magazine. Inge finds acting work. They move to upstate New York and acquire a dog. Their carefully contrived life seems to be idyllic and perfect, until that moment at the party where a woman throws her wine in Stefan's face. The fastidiously constructed lies seem to come tumbling down around him.

This is an elegant and well-constructed novel. Lasdun has an ear for language, and his descriptions have a precise detail that one might expect from a published poet"

"The lobby was floored with polished slabs made of a pink and white agglomerate, like slices of vitrified mortadella."

Though Stefan is not particularly likeable - how can one really trust a compulsive liar as a narrator? - Lasdun's writing enables the reader to ignore that fact and continue reading. The author does an impeccable job of showing what life must have been like in the world of the GDR, where everyone informs on everyone else, and where you never know if your best friend or acquaintance is actually working for the Stasi. These details make the novel compelling, and it is easy to see why it was optioned for a movie before it was even published. It is a very worthy novel for the Booker longlist!
2 stem TurboBookSnob | Jan 17, 2008 |
I thought this was pretty dull. Perhaps expectations overset by the cover where Economist says it has white-knuckling tension and literary wit. Yeah right. I don't know what the reviewers on Amazon are thinking. This is an autobiographical or biographical novel about a guy who made it over to the US, and his co-minglings with other emigres, his mid-life angst, and stories about how he came over and 'secrets' or 'drama' about it. I found it pedestrian and over-reaching... no white knuckles here, I was bored. ( )
  shawnd | Jul 21, 2007 |
Viser 1-5 af 8 (næste | vis alle)
It’s a taut transnational thriller, as told by Vogel. But can we trust his version? According to James Lasdun, an eminent writer with no known history of dishonesty (a lecturer at Princeton, no less), the novel is a study of lies told by a liar; in a world of unreliable narrators, Herr Vogel tops the list.
 
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"Part political thriller, part meditation on the nature of desire and betrayal, Seven Lies tells the story of Stefan Vogel, a young man growing up in East Germany, whose yearnings for love, glory, and freedom express themselves in a lifelong fantasy of going to America. By a series of blackly comic and increasingly dangerous maneuvers, he contrives to make his fantasy come true, finding himself not only in the country of his dreams but also married to the woman he idolizes. America seems everything he expected, and meanwhile his secrets are safely locked away behind the Berlin Wall. A new life of unbounded bliss seems to have been granted to him. And then the world begins to fall apart."--BOOK JACKET.

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