Bear with me, because I’m going to start this review with a discussion of The DaVinci Code.
Remember the slightly weird-albeit-necessary way that novel presented us all its necessary heaps of context and back story – by having characters sit in a room for hours on end discussing the history of Vatican corruption and biblical revision? We didn’t really notice how boring it was at the time, so wrapped up in the nitty-gritty details as we were. But later, after we’d had a chance to decompress, what we saw (or what I did) was how thinly written every mouthpiece was for those thick slices of history that Dan Brown was so ready to divulge, how wooden every character really was in the wake of a novel seemingly motivated not at all by character but by agenda.
Cue Kino, Jurgen Fauth’s cinematic, fun, more 20th-century answer to 2003’s phenomenon. I don’t believe that Fauth had any intention of writing a debut that fits that bill, but that’s exactly why it works. It is, somehow, a completely unpretentious period piece, thick with history but which maintains that cinematic quality. Cinematic, of course, because it not only presents us with a rich account of filmmaking in the Weimar Republic, but does so in a way that plays out like a movie, with realized protagonists and antagonists — and, just as often, the mystery of which characters might fall into which of those categories at any given time. It’s an adventure steeped in the tragic details of the postwar world, but still a book that somehow manages an overall funness. Continue reading