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.
Russian she used to love about the most important characteristics of the men and women of the future, and do you know what he says? Brotherhood. The ability to be honest and open. Not mistrusting others. Being able to speak the truth. Not seeing innocence, softness, and naiveté as weaknesses. Living in a world where coping with life no longer means having to walk over dead bodies without flinching. And? Shenya said. That would all be wonderful. Shenya! Even the youngest, most idiotic writer in
arranged to meet and we were there early, so we walked around the block. Therese knew her way around here too and showed us the buildings that the parish had bought and set up for social services—school, kindergarten, old-age home. The community did not seem poor; in fact, the neighborhood exuded a modest prosperity and respectability. The well-tended lawns were not extravagant but were kept in meticulous order; almost all of the houses, wooden like everywhere else in the city, had received a new
letters from the three Indian chiefs on display at the Hopi Cultural Center’s museum, apparently sent to a government agency, describing the terrible hardship and poverty of their people and calling for assistance from the white man (machinery, seeds, technology). The whites are candid and generous, one letter said, and then went on to discuss in detail how stubborn and narrow-minded many of his own people were, as if deaf and blind, rejecting the advantages of the white man’s way of life. In
of the many small wooden buildings that they were advertising. The wedding could take place there very quickly and affordably. So? Lowis said to Sanna. Should we? —Better not at all than like that, she said. Did he see this offering as a kind of therapy too? —Why not? he answered. Compared with the strict puritanical marriage laws that held sway everywhere else. * * * The Mirage promised everyone who crossed its threshold an ENTRANCE INTO A PARADISAICAL WORLD OF WONDERS Looking back at
down, looks at the mouse, then just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it with all of her senses … This struck me as inhuman, something impossible to do and impossible to want to do either. Computer crash. After the first shock, after the attempts of various savvier friends to fix it, which even included them getting advice over the phone from even-savvier friends in the middle of the night—apparently a computer problem is self-evidently a major catastrophe that any computer