The closing of a German public bath takes on catastrophic importance in the eyes of an aging lifeguard. There's not much to the life of the protagonist beyond his occupation. Newcomer Hacker, a young German author, has made her narrator a singularly uncommunicative, repetitive, backwards-seeming old man who for four decades was a lifeguard at an East Berlin public swimming pool and baths. By the time we get to him, the baths have just been closed for good after a government inspection of the shoddily maintained facility. The lifeguard, however, has decided he's not going to leave the baths, and, after the pool has been drained, the entrance locked and the staff sent off, he slips back in to live among the mold and rats, obsessively reliving a life that might most gently be described as "routine." For just about all that time, the lifeguard's day had consisted of rising early, getting the same lunch at a local kiosk, coming to the baths, enforcing the rules, and ignoring the slights of the other employees, who regarded him as, at best, simple. Hacker peels off another onion-skin layer of the lifeguard's story with every successive return to his neurotic repetitions, and the baths take on horrific connotations with the suggestion that the pool was used as an execution spot for prisoners during WWII. Otherwise, though, except for additional brief mentions of the Berlin Wall's collapse, the lifeguard lives in a world outside time, history, or care-and the reader wilts. Writing an unboring story about a boring person is a toweringly difficult challenge, and Hacker doesn't yet have the method or breadth to pull it off: the peeling away of layers reveals, each time, only more of the same.Solidly written but terribly uninteresting experiment about a lifeguard who can't save himself.