First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday – Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes


It’s been far too long since I participated in Bibliophile by the Sea’s First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday- that will change now that exams and study are over for six weeks and I have a huge, tempting reading stack.

In that stack is Timur Vermes’s political satire, Look Who’s Back. I think you can guess who it’s about from the cover. The question is, are we ready to laugh at him?

It begins –

“It was probably the German people, the Volk, which surprised me the most of all. I really did everything humanly possible to destroy the foundations for a future existence on this soil, this soil which the enemy had desecrated. Bridges, power stations, roads, railways – I gave instructions for every last one to be obliterated. I have since checked when this order was issued – it was in March – and I believe I made myself perfectly clear. All supply facilities were to be razed, waterworks, telephone systems, resources, factories, workshops, farms, all material assets – everything, and by that I mean absolutely everything! These matters must be approached with care and precision; a directive such as this can leave no room for doubt. For we all know of the ordinary soldier at the front who, contained within his own particular sector, understandably lacks an overview of the general situation, knowledge of the strategic, tactical necessities. The soldier who comes and says, “Do I really have to set light to… this… [let’s say] kiosk, too? Can’t we let it fall into enemy hands Is it really so bad if the kiosk falls into enemy hands?” Bad? Of course it’s bad! The enemy reads newspapers, too, doesn’t he? He will use the kiosk to conduct business, he will turn the kiosk against us, everything he finds will be turned against us! Every material asset – let me underline this once more – every single material asset must be destroyed. Not just houses, but doors too. And door handles. Then the screws, and not only the long ones. The screws must be unscrewed and then ruthlessly bent out of shape. The doors must be ground into sawdust. And then burned to cinders. Else the enemy will show no mercy; he will walk in and out of these doors as it pleases him. But present him with abroken door handle, bent screws and a heap of ashes – well, Mr Churchill, be my guest! At all events these requirements are the brutal consequence of war – of this I have always been aware – and thus the instructions I gave could not have been worded more differently, even though the background to my directive was different.
To begin with, at any rate.”

In many ways this book strays from my usual preferences. Obviously there’s an element of fantasy, as well as political themes, neither of which normally attract me. However, I recently read Magda and then visited the spot in Berlin where Hitler’s bunker was located (it’s now a car-park), so my interest is piqued. Have any bloggers read Look Who’s Back?

14 responses

  1. From the intro, it sounds quite intriguing actually. I don’t read a lot of satire (some of that is lost on me), but I do like political themes now and then and I always enjoy fantasy.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.