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August 28, 2004

'Snowleg'

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The perfect bedtime reading book.

I finished it last night, after several weeks of doing just that with it.

Wonderful title, what?

In 1983 Peter Hithersay, a classically-repressed, 18-year-old English schoolboy, goes to Cold War Leipzig, Germany with a mime troupe as part of a cultural exchange program.

During his brief visit behind the Iron Curtain, he manages to fall for an East German girl.

She asks him to help her escape, and at a crucial moment, he balks, and she is taken into custody by the Stasi, her fate forever unknown by Hithersay.

From that moment forward he is dead inside.

For the next 19 years, he tries to suppress the power of his feelings for the mysteriously alluring girl, whose Icelandic nickname translated as "Snowleg."

Finally, a search for another missing part of his past brings him back to Germany, now united, and he resolves to try to find out what happened to the long-lost Snowleg.

The sense of East Germany then and now as part of a united country is overwhelmingly vivid.

In particular, I got an alarmingly frightening feeling of what it might be like to have no one, absolutely no one - even relatives and direct family - you could really trust.

East Germany under the Stasi, and probably today's Cuba, provide disturbing foreshadowings of what life might well be like in a "Minority Report"-ish 21st-century society.

I find it interesting that the British version of the book has a much more vivid jacket (below) than the American (above).

I would've expected just the opposite.

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August 28, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink


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