City of Angels: or, The Overcoat of Dr. Freud / A Novel
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The stunning final novel from East Germany's most acclaimed writer
Three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the writer Christa Wolf was granted access to her newly declassified Stasi files. Known for her defiance and outspokenness, Wolf was not especially surprised to discover forty-two volumes of documents produced by the East German secret police. But what was surprising was a thin green folder whose contents told an unfamiliar―and disturbing―story: in the early 1960s, Wolf herself had been an informant for the Communist government. And yet, thirty years on, she had absolutely no recollection of it.
Wolf's extraordinary autobiographical final novel is an account of what it was like to reckon with such a shocking discovery. Based on the year she spent in Los Angeles after these explosive revelations, City of Angels is at once a powerful examination of memory and a surprisingly funny and touching exploration of L.A., a city strikingly different from any Wolf had ever visited.
Even as she reflects on the burdens of twentieth-century history, Wolf describes the pleasures of driving a Geo Metro down Wilshire Boulevard and watching episodes of Star Trek late at night. Rich with philosophical insights, personal revelations, and vivid descriptions of a diverse city and its citizens, City of Angels is a profoundly humane and disarmingly honest novel―and a powerful conclusion to a remarkable career in letters.
categorize it as Progressive or maybe a little Reactionary after all, it was deep in the heart of winter, the two of you walked down ice-cold, badly lit streets late at night across the Saale bridge, the wind whistled in your faces, the moon hung low in the sky above the chain of hills, you ran into hardly anyone, you talked about Remarque. I sat in my apartment in the MS. VICTORIA, there was a movie on TV about two formidable women who had devoted themselves to studying chimpanzees and
we probably both realized how ridiculous this explanation must have sounded to the black woman, who got back into her car, which then sped off, tires squealing. Francesco and Ines got in the car with us. The men in the straw hats in front of the houses showed no reaction at all. Bob said: She’s just angry, and I thought: Well, that was something we had to experience too. Karl, a photographer friend of Bob’s, was waiting with a few other guests in Bob’s apartment and he mixed us drinks. Gin and
protagonists appear before their followers do we become interested again. The cheer when Clinton and Hillary come out on stage; my delight when Hillary pulls Clinton’s speech out of her suit pocket. The decisive blow against Bush was said to have come on the Friday before the election, when it came out that he had not only known about the shipment of weapons to Iran but had in fact approved them; when he had then brushed aside the question with a wave of his hand and gone so far as to say that
anything about it from you. He tried to ascertain if you had been given other assignments, besides this unfortunate electoral agitation, and what relationship you had to the West Berlin members of the Communist Party—all questions you stubbornly refused to answer, even though it would have been easy enough to answer them in the negative. He couldn’t get anywhere with you, but since you had told him, totally unnecessarily, that your father was dead, while in fact he was visiting your family in
love. That is how he touched upon the innermost secret, of men unable to love, I thought, who are prepared to do monstrous things to fill their emptiness. Was it a good sign that I was no longer able to write? A sign of sincerity? I feel like the rider across Lake Constance from the Schwab poem, I told my friend in Zurich over the phone. You’re overreacting, he said. What an idiot I was back then. All right, fine. But that’s all there is to say about it now. And how do you explain that I