Customer Reviews for

Life Goes On: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted April 24, 2015

    more from this reviewer

    Life goes on--but it's a grind

    “[Herr Seldersen’s] poverty had made him deaf and blind; he was excessively sensitive only within painfully narrow confines.”

    This sentence, about 50 pages from the end of LIFE GOES ON, strikes me as a pretty good synopsis of the story. The Seldersens--father, mother, and teenage son Albrecht--are owners of a small shop in a small (unnamed) German town at the end of the 1920s during the economic collapse and unemployment of that era. Though the story involves a few other characters, the Seldersens are the focal point, and indeed most of the novel is very narrowly trained on their anxiety and misery. Herr Seldersen sees fewer and fewer customers in his shop, and those that do come in have to be allowed to buy on credit, when it’s obvious that their debts are unlikely ever to be repaid in full because the hard times are dragging almost everyone in his circle down. Meanwhile, Seldersen has to resort to borrowing himself in order to stock his store, knowing that his ability to repay is as dim as his customers’. He dreads the daily mail delivery, as it brings inevitable notices of overdue bills. The downward spiral for everyone concerned seems bottomless. Meanwhile, Albrecht struggles to find meaning in his life amidst the gloom and has to take jobs as an occasional musician, even though working leaves him little time and energy for his studies.

    The characters ruminate continuously about their plight, regrets about the past, and fears for the future, and there is virtually no evidence that any of the political turmoil in Germany during that time (the rise of the Nazis from an obscure and fringe party to the verge of national domination, which eventually culminated when Hitler became Chancellor in 1933; the battles between Nazi SA hooligans and communists; etc.) is anything they even think about. These are not coffeehouse intellectuals discussing world events; they are lower middle class shopkeepers who can barely see their way to the next day.

    This does not make for a scintillating story--in fact, it’s often quite repetitious and naturally depressing--but it seems true to the mental state of people in economic straits, whose minds beat futilely against their problems, trying to find a way out. I tend to believe that for many Germans during this period, their lives were very much like the Seldersens’.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2015

    interesting from a historic view point,

    This book took a while to figure out, Upon completing the book, the afterwards section answered questions about the book. The period between WWI and Hitlers rise to power points out the struggles of the German people and their despair that would lead them to follow anyone who offered them hope for the future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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