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This Must Be the Place
     

This Must Be the Place

3.0 2
by Anna Winger
 

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A "stealthily original" (The New York Times Book Review) debut novel of two people who find each other when they least expect it in a city haunted by history.BR
Walter Baum has one of the most famous voices in Germany. A former television star, he's been dubbing Tom Cruise's lines into German for fifteen years. Now he finds himself nearing forty,

Overview

A "stealthily original" (The New York Times Book Review) debut novel of two people who find each other when they least expect it in a city haunted by history.BR
Walter Baum has one of the most famous voices in Germany. A former television star, he's been dubbing Tom Cruise's lines into German for fifteen years. Now he finds himself nearing forty, alone and adrift. In the apartment below is Hope, a young American woman, isolated in a lonely city. When they finally meet in the elevator of the building they share, what transpires is "an essential love story for our confused and difficult times."(Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan)

Editorial Reviews

Liesl Schillinger
…an unretouched yet touching portrait of a woman, a man and a city in flux…In This Must Be the Place, Winger avoids the braggadocio of typical expatriate fiction, telling a story rooted in universal human emotions—love, loneliness, grief, fear of change and, yes, hope—among people whose identity is more complicated than their citizenship.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In Winger's touching and emotionally turbulent debut, the fantasy of new beginnings gives way to a persistent sense of haunted-but oddly comforting-history. Set in Berlin in the late fall of 2001, the novel focuses on the overlapping stories of grieving American expat Hope and has-been minor German celebrity Walter, who's dreaming of a new career in Hollywood. Hope recently suffered a late-term miscarriage and has reluctantly joined her economist husband in Berlin despite a widening gulf between them and her crippling depression. Walter's teenage heartthrob status has withered with age, and now he dubs American films into German. The friendship that blooms between them raises issues about personal and national identity, though their coming together is a bit too neat, as are the many oversimplifications of Americans and Germans that pepper the narrative. The real drama arises between the cities of New York and Berlin; both cities, like Hope and Walter, bear a profound survivor's guilt: the war, the wall and the towers overwhelm individual sorrows. There are a few clunky moments, but the elegant ending and confident storytelling are redeeming. (Aug.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Berlin in December 2001 is the mournful backdrop of Winger's debut novel. Walter Baum is Tom Cruise's voice. He's one of the German actors who represent specific American actors in films and TV series that are dubbed into German. In the early '80s, Walter was the heartthrob of a successful German TV series, but after a brief, unsuccessful stint in Hollywood, he never acted again. Fed up with dubbing, he plans to ask Cruise to help him make a Hollywood comeback when the superstar is in Berlin to premiere "their" latest movie. Walter's neighbor Hope, a native New Yorker, is grieving the stillbirth of a child and the traumatic events of 9/11. When they meet in their shared lobby, Walter is drawn to Hope's gentle spirit and helps her navigate Berlin, both geographically and emotionally. Walter ultimately abandons his Hollywood fantasy and comes to grips with his past, but Hope's evolution as a character is disappointing, characterized by passivity, even in the face of a bullying husband who gives her ample reason to rebel. The star of the book is Berlin itself. Winger deftly reveals its history and cultural significance: the secrets of the elegant 19th-century building where Walter and Hope live; the playground located in the footprint of a building bombed during World War II; West Berlin as an insular beacon of democracy; the role of a new Berlin after German unification. References to Berlin's vanished Jewish community and German attitudes toward Jews form a tenuous thread throughout the story, culminating in a touching scene in which Walter and Hope make peace with the past. Against this robust portrait of a city, however, the companion theme of 9/11 comes across as gratuitous, a momentousevent reduced to I Heart NY T-shirts. An intriguing if somewhat uneven look at Germany as it wrestles with its past and future.
From the Publisher
"An unretouched yet touching portrait of a woman, a man and a city in flux...a story rooted in universal human emotions."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Funny, touching, and unforgettable."
-Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan

"With a wryly engaging voice, Winger...deftly reveals the rough-edged layers that make up places and people."
-Vogue

"Gracefully captures the odd emptiness of Berlin's streets as well as the subtleties of its inhabitants... a smart tasteful novel."
-The New York Sun

"Cosmopolitan, funny, and breezy to read...always smart and never sappy."
-Daily Candy

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594489976
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
08/14/2008
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 10.86(h) x 1.06(d)
Age Range:
18 - 14 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"An unretouched yet touching portrait of a woman, a man and a city in flux...a story rooted in universal human emotions."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Funny, touching, and unforgettable."
-Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan

"With a wryly engaging voice, Winger...deftly reveals the rough-edged layers that make up places and people."
-Vogue

"Gracefully captures the odd emptiness of Berlin's streets as well as the subtleties of its inhabitants... a smart tasteful novel."
-The New York Sun

"Cosmopolitan, funny, and breezy to read...always smart and never sappy."
-Daily Candy

Gary Shteyngart
As smart and cosmopolitan as the twenty-first-century Berlin she chronicles so well, Anna Winger's This Must Be the Place is an essential love story for our confused and difficult times. Funny, touching, and unforgettable. (Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan)

Meet the Author

Anna Winger grew up in Massachusetts and in Mexico. Her essays have been published in The New York Times Magazine and the Frankfurter Allgemeine, among other publications. She is also a photographer and the creator of NPR’s “Berlin Stories.” A graduate of Columbia University, she lives in Berlin with her family.

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This Must Be the Place 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
accidental chick lit boring guide to berlin cliche after cliche about both germans and americans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love finding a new book by an author I haven't heard of, and thats made all the better when the author has such talent it gives you more to look forward to. This story about two Americans who happen to live in the same apartment building in Berlin reveals a story about connecting with strangers and remembering what humanity means all over the world. If you liked the solemn melancholy and sly sit of the film 'Lost in Translation', you will appreciate this book. The author is a stunning writer. You will want to read some passages aloud just to hear the words over and over again.