I love Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre. Really. I do. I watched his television shows religiously thanks to the power of that wonderful thing we call the internet. I read all of his books that I can get my little not-in-Germany hands on. I even — and I cringe admitting this — wrote him a fan letter. Unfortunately it was not long after I started taking learning German seriously so I can imagine how nonsensical and incomprehensible it was. (I never got a response.) But, man. His writing can be tough for a German language learner.
Just as with Stuckrad-Barre’s most recent book, Auch Deutsche unter den Opfern, I had some luck and won this book through a Deutsche Welle contest after seeing the author on their Typically German show. It’s autographed and everything.
Also, just like with Auch Deutsche unter den Opfern, Deutsches Theater is a collection of articles, interviews, stories and photographs that Stuckrad had previously published in newspapers and magazines. They include stories like a portrait on Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit that’s seeming awful timely this week and Claus Peymann kauft sich keine Hose, geht aber mit essen, which was written like a script or interview and was reenacted by Stuckrad and German talk show host Harald Schmidt (The three part video can be seen on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Stuckrad famously wrote for Schmidt’s talk show; I told you I’m a fan.
But what about Deutsches Theater? This is where it gets difficult to make a clear statement of opinion. There are obvious moments of humor in his writing that I was able to understand through my haze of imperfect German comprehension. But it seemed as though the articles in Deutsches Theater were less humorous than some of his other writings. I found this disappointing although his insights and observations make the stories interesting. I also found the reading level, in general, much higher than in some of his other writings. This made it much more difficult for me and increased my frustration.
Was this my favorite read in German? No. But I made it through somehow. And every time that I read a book, I try to keep in the back of my head that I can always reread it in the future. Who knows, maybe in another year my German skills will be at a place where I’ll appreciate Deutsches Theater more.