How German Is It? by Walter Abish

Super weird book, as expected. I read Abish’s novel Alphabetic Africa over the summer, and thought it was really interesting, and it made me want to read more by him. Good call.

If I was still in school this is the kind of book I would love writing about. As a writer I want to pick it apart. Abish uses multiple points of view without ever getting mucked up about whose perspective things come from. He uses different length chapters and sections very effectively. The book has very strong and compelling bones.

In this novel Abish talks about familiarity, what does it mean when something is familiar, what does it mean when something is just there? He also questions what can change, and whether everything can change.

The novel’s title works to frame the contents of the book. It’s a question for the reader to hold onto as they work their way through. The title changes how you think of the rest of the novel.

As a stylist Abish is phenomenal. As a novelist he’s pretty alright. This was compelling enough that I think I’m going to continue working my way through his back catalogue.


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