Billiards at Half-Past Nine by Heinrich Böll

By Heinrich Böll

Böll's famous competition to fascism and struggle informs this relocating tale of a unmarried day within the lifetime of traumatized soldier Robert Faehmel, scion of a kinfolk of winning Cologne architects, as he struggles to come to bland lifestyles after the second one global warfare. An come across with a war-time nemesis, now an influence within the reconstruction of Germany, forces him to confront deepest stories and the injuries of Germany's defeat within the global Wars.

Translated via Patrick Bowles

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Extra info for Billiards at Half-Past Nine

Sample text

The shed, although tumbledown, is really rather handsome when looked at with a sympathetic eye, the wood of it weathered to a silky, silvery grey, like the handle of a well-worn implement, a spade, say, or a trusty axe. Old Brides-in-the-Bath would have caught that texture exactly, the quiet sheen and shimmer of it. Doodle deedle dee. Claire, my daughter, has written to ask how I am faring. Not well, I regret to say, bright Clarinda, not well at all. She does not telephone because I have warned her I will take no calls, even from her.

The waves were depositing a fringe of soiled yellow foam along the waterline. No sail marred the high horizon. I would not swim, no, not ever again. Someone has just walked over my grave. Someone. The name of the house is the Cedars, as of old. A bristling clump of those trees, monkey-brown with a tarry reek, their trunks nightmarishly tangled, still grows at the left side, facing across an untidy lawn to the big curved window of what used to be the living room but which Miss Vavasour prefers to call, in landladyese, the lounge.

I was too ambitious. She says she cannot get her fingers around the notes. Your mind, more like, I do not reply. Recreant, recreant thoughts. I wonder that she never married. She was beautiful, once, in her soulful way. Nowadays she wears her long grey hair, that formerly was so black, gathered into a tight loop behind her head and transpierced by two crossed pins as big as knitting needles, a style that is to my mind suggestive, wholly inappropriately, of the geisha-house. The Japanese note is continued in the kimono-like belted silk dressing-gown that she wears of a morning, the silk printed with a motif of brightly coloured birds and bamboo fronds.

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