|Berlin (2003) [Novel]|
by Michael Mirolla
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(From the publisher):
After a two-year stupor during which he has never spoken or shown any interest in his surroundings, Montreal mental patient Giulio Chiavetta awakes suddenly - on the day the newspapers announce that the Berlin Wall has crumbled. When Chiavetta makes good his escape from the hospital where he is being treated, the doctor in charge of his case searches for clues to his change in behaviour.
What he uncovers is a series of files in the computer Chiavetta had in his room. The files - themselves titled "Berlin" - tell the story of Antonio Serratura, a Montreal professor who's invited to attend a philosophy conference in Cold War Berlin. There, he finds a strange world that constantly keeps changing shape around him - and a series of questions that he's ultimately unable to answer:
- did the Swedish philosopher who liked putting on punk circus displays kill herself with a drug overdose in the university washroom?
- does Serratura end up in a transvestite bar with a Jewish friend who sells gas stoves?
- does he commit a brutal, cold-blooded murder, killing the wife of the man who invited him to Berlin?
- are the brother and sister who run the hotel where he's staying indulging in sado-masochistic acts?
- is there an old man in the hotel who replays old Nazi propaganda films in his bedroom and still thinks he's fighting on the Russian front?
At the same time, Serratura has his own mystery to solve: a diary in Italian of German POW camp memories left behind by his father, a diary with some disconcerting revelations that lead to disturbing and unacceptable discoveries.
Finally, there's the connection between Chiavetta and Serratura: are they one and the same? Is one the invention of the other? Were they once one person and then split apart in the descent into madness: Serratura Cold War and Chiavetta post-Cold War?
Original title: Berlin
Genre: Fiction→ Historical→ European→ 20th Century
Fiction→ General Fiction→ Mental Illness