Slade say goodbye to Jane. I say goodbye to Schabbach.
The turn of the century. An anticlimax. Where once we thought it would be Prince, it ends up Robbie Williams. The excitement of everybody's got a bomb, we could all die, we might as well party...it just becomes a shit Bond theme pastiche.
1999 is also the year of the solar eclipse. Another anticlimax. In London it's "Wow, it's really dark". Wow.
In Germany, though it's a different matter. Thousands of people flock the streets of Munich to watch the eclipse. And here's blond Gunnar, squinting into the sun, on his way to prison to serve a six month sentence for drunk driving.
Remember Gunnar? The man who lost his blonde family to a man who is rich and has nose bleeds? Well, Gunnar thinks fondly of the days when he first left East Germany for the West to help build Hermann and Clarissa's house. And since he's made a fortune on the stock market, he now wants to celebrate the millennium by paying for a massive party at the house in Schabbach. There's just the little matter of his jail sentence to negotiate. Otherwise he won't make the party.
Gunnar turns up at his estranged family's home. And while the other adults are out, after three bottles of wine, wearing only his red y-fronts, he bonds with his two daughters. But the next morning, the condemned man has to leave. And off he goes to jail to share a cell with a neo-nazi fitness fanatic. Gunnar reads Harry Potter and plans the reunion party. The neo-nazi does press-ups.
So poor Gunnar pays for the party, and of course he doesn't get let out of jail early for good behaviour.
The party itself is not one I'd wish to attend. The electronics/computer whizz plays his saxophone? clarinet? Can't remember, but it isn't very good. Clarissa, now healthy, sings "Maybe This Time". She puts her all into it. I wish she wouldn't. A man dressed as a woman turns up with other men dressed as women and says, "It can't be a surprise, you must have all known how I was". I don't know who he is let alone how he was. Hermann and Clarissa go for a romantic walk. She tells him her plan for the future is to "stay healthy".
Someone who isn't staying healthy is an old friend of Lulu's who has Aids. Of course, he is gay. The first gay character in 85 years of Heimat. Lulu visits him on New Year's Eve and tells him she doesn't love the man she is planning to spend her life with.
And all is quiet on New Year's Day. Bono is presumably asleep. And Lulu enters her father's house. The party-goers are asleep. Her young, precociously talented son is playing the piano. And Lulu is sad. She is sad for her dying friend, she is sad for herself, she is sad for her son. Her son has Simon blood and you can be assured that he will live a very affluent, mostly happy life. The tears roll down Lulu's face. They roll down mine, too.
The tears roll down Lulu's face as she looks out of the window. The screen, slowly but surely, turns blue. Lichtblau. Is the telly on the blink?
No, this is Heimat.
Some book reviews
1 day ago