My only slight criticism of this novel applies to the cover of the paperback version I read: although the woman in the picture is lovely, she doesn’t suggest the political shenanigans which was the main pleasure for me. Also, although the novel was not especially short and the ending was satisfying, I would have liked it to have been longer simply to give me more time to get my head round an aftermath I feel I ought to know more about.
The anomaly of the British and German family sharing a home in post-war Hamburg leads me into Charli Mills’ latest flash fiction challenge: to write a 99-word story using two objects, people or ideas that don’t go together. Rather than focusing on the complexities of cross-cultural relationships, I thought I’d build my flash around two objects from the novel. I was very tempted by the suitcase Ozi drags around with him, but I didn’t want to risk spoiling the surprise for potential readers of discovering what’s inside. Instead, I’ve borrowed cigarettes and questionnaires, linked it with my non-NaNo WIP on the subject of psychiatric hospital closure (delighted to say I’ve passed my 30,000 word target, with a few hours of November still to go) and, because it’s very loosely based on my real-life experience, almost qualified for Lisa Reiter’s current Bite-Sized Memoir prompt on interviews. Not sure how much sense it will make out of context, but here goes:
Matty stared as if I were the crazy one.
I ticked the “no” box and moved on. “Can you make a meal any time you choose?”
Matty frowned. “May I see?”
I passed the questionnaire across. How to explain our duty, not only to ensure a better quality of life in the community, but to prove it?
Matty dragged on her cigarette. She raised a corner of the printed sheet to meet the glowing tip.
I would’ve scored that as another “no”, had she not reduced the questionnaire to black powder.