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The Bird Is a Raven


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About the Author

Benjamin Lebert was born in Freiburg, Germany, in 1982. He is the author of Crazy, a best seller in Germany, which was published when he was sixteen years old.


Lebert became a literary sensation in Germany when his Crazy was published in 2000, when he was 18. This follow-up is, in a word, sophomoric. Two young men meet on a train from Munich to Berlin when they're given adjacent sleeping compartments. Henry asks Paul if he can tell him an involved tale; Paul, in his 20s and more experienced with Berlin and much else, relents out of a kind of restless need for distraction. As Henry drones on about a pathetic love triangle involving an anorexic named Christine, an obese rich kid named Jens and his own problems with his bowels, Paul's attention wanders, and we get bits of his own banal backstory. There's nothing remarkable about Henry's telling-in fact, it's aggressively boring-and Paul's own ruminations are run-of-the-mill dour. The tension fails to rise as Henry narrates the denouement of his problems with Christine and Jens, and a completely unmotivated surprise ending doesn't do anything to redeem the proceedings. This book misses even the club kid readers it's aiming for. (Jan. 25) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

German author Lebert achieved international acclaim at a young age with his first novel, Crazy. His current work is steeped in a classic noir construct: Two strangers are assigned the same sleep berth on a passenger train traveling to Berlin from Munich in the dead of night, and throughout the hours of darkness secrets are revealed and lives changed. At first, things appear to be normal. Henry and Paul are young men traveling to an urban center to escape love, loss, and various coming-of-age problems. Beneath the surface, however, much darker issues are at play; with the action moving as quickly as the train across the north German landscape, the story crescendos to a shocking climax as it becomes obvious that neither character will escape unscathed. Told in short, sparse sentences, this novella can be completed in one sitting. Recommended for large public libraries with customers interested in international fiction.-Christopher Korenowsky, Columbus Metropolitan Lib. Syst., OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Lebert explores the limits of trust, blending broad humor and sudden bursts of melodrama while maintaining a delicately balanced tension. . . . [He] does a lot with a few words." -The New York Times Book Review

"Lebert [is] the Wunderkind of pop-literature." -The Daily Mirror (Berlin)

"Filled with. . . youthful fatalism that is counterbalanced with wild swings of elation."-The Advocate (Baton Rouge)

"Lebert manages to portray with beautiful images the disappointment of needing tremendous strength for things which others find to be an easy game." -The World (Berlin)

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