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Gang Roundup – May 2019

I survived the AtoZ Challenge! Not just that, I survived my Battle4May! I can scarsely believe it!
Fabruary, March and April were a really busy period, but I’m happy I managed to do most of what I set out to last February. Wow! If feels like it was a lifetime ago!

Well, more on that later. First I get back to you with the Gang Roudup, which I missed in April. Lots of intersting links, as you may imagine, since the AtoZ promped a lot of research.

Enjoy!


Premier of Brecht’s musical, The Threepenny Opera, at the Theatre am Schiffbauerdamm, Berlin

Culture in Weimar Germany: on the edge of the volcano

This is a very brief into to the Weimar Era in general, but a very good one, covering most of the essentials to understand that time. Weimar is definitely a difficult beast to tame. It was a very complicated time, full of contradiction, of great freedom and great repression, of forward moving and reining in.
But then, that’s why it is so fascinating.

Weimar Era Night LifeBerlin: It’s Not All Sex, All the Time

Yes, I have noticed. Lots of people seem to think to Berlin as a city of free sex, particularly when it comes to the Weimar time.
To me, this is the same problem as the popular idea of the flapper: because there was really more freedom about sex and relationships than there used to be (one hundred years ago, mind you!) people immediately attached to the time and the people some kind of perversion, as if that were an accurate way to depict the time.
The truth is a lot tamer, and a lot more meaningful, in my opinion. People of the 1920s were exploring new ways to live, to live a true life made up of work and hardship as well as amusement and yes, sometimes also perdition. This article makes a very good point of it.

Interior of the Wintergarten in 1940.Where to go in Berlin for a taste of the Weimar Republic

A few years ago, my sister graduated with a thesis on the Berliner Politische Kabarett and as research, she spent a few days in Berlin, looking for the 1920s sites of that scene. She couldn’t find a lot. WWII bombardments were so harsh on Berlin that very little remains of that period.
But this article points out a few things that still stand or that has been rebirth. One day, I’t love to go visit.

Being German, Being American by May J. Manning

It is well known that it wasn’t a good time to be an American of German ancestry before and during WWI. There was a lot of suspicion about them. The German immigrants controlled the market of liquor in the USA at the beginning of the XX century, and there’s an argument that this – together with the growing untrust and accusation of unpatriotism they had to face – helped the passing of Prohibition.
This article takes a look at what it meant to be German-American in the years of WWI. It wasn’t a comfortable position.

Vintage Photos of 1920s Berlin

Berlin 1926

I have never hidden my love for vintage photoes, especially street photos. So when I get the chance to look up a few of them, I take it!

31 Vintage Photographs Captured Street Scenes of Berlin in the 1920s
50 Rare Vintage Photographs Captured Street Scenes of Berlin from the 1920s

Weimar Cabaret

Alpha History has a great collection of articles about Weimar Germany. Yes, they are very essential, but normally quite accurate and to the point, the perfect way to get familiar with a new topic.
This is their entry for Weimar Cabaret.

A tour of cabaret-era Berlin as populism rises

It is sometimes not so difficult to see the similarities between the Weimar Republic and our time. Insecurity and anxiety going hand-in-hands with mindblowing technical and scientific advancement.
This article looks a bit more closely to these similarities, taking as guide Christopher Isherwood’s work.

Haus VaterlandHaus Vaterland

Haus Vaterland and its five floor of entertainment was one of the most popular amusement spot in Berlin in the 1920s. The building resisted almost through all of WWII but it was then severley damaged by a bombardment in 1944.
Further damaged by a fire in 1953, it was inglobated in No Man’s Land when the Berlin Wall was erected and finally demolished in 1976.

It alwasy makes me sad when such an important building full of histroy gets lost. 

The Truth About Babylon Berlin

I’ll admit that I haven’t seen the series Babylon Berlin yet, though I’m curious to. I did read the book it’s based on a couple of years ago (well, my understanding is that the TV series actually covers more than just the first book in the series of novels) and I found it a very good mystery, not as a very good historical novel. Sounds like the TV series is quite the same from this long article putting side by side actual historical facts and the facts in the series.

It’s always hard to decide how much tolerant we should be with historical fiction. I’ll admit I’m not too tolerant, because I think that if we are not willing to respect history as it was, why bother to write a historical novel? But hey, it is true that a story might be good even when it’s not historically accurate.

This clip from the series is certainly a good example. It is visually very appealing, I won’t deny that. I’ll also say that – from what little knowledge I have of the time – there is very little in terms of historical accuracy.

What do you think? Do you care for accuracy in historical fiction, or do you just care for the story?

Albergo Diurno Venezia in Milan

Albergo diurno’ can be translated into something like ‘day-time hotel’. In the 1920s, when the Albergo Diurno Venezia was built, bathroom commodities were still not very common in most  houses. This place then gave the possibility to citizens, as well as travellers, to take care of themselves.
It was created as a city spa and public baths, where bathrooms were offered together with a complete range of ancillary services, such as hairdressers and manicure, but also more general services like public telephones, travel agencies and laundries.

This particular place remained open until the beginning of the 2000, though it progressively deteriorated, since it received very little maintenance, until it was shut down in 2006.
But ironically, disinterest had saved it. Never having received a revamped, it remained out of time, some kind of 1920s Pompeii. Everything in it remained as it was in the 1920s.
In 2015 it was taken under the protective wing of the FAI (Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano, the Italian Environment Fund) which slowly restored it and reopened it to the public in 2017.

Today, it is possible to visit it on assigned days (it isn’t open all the time), but there is a project to make it more accessible and even to reopen the spa.

And now Sarah’s own stuff!

May is here and my Battle4May is over. It was a very busy three months and I’ll admit there were moments when I thought I couldn’t possibly do it. But I did it. Well, most of it.

BLOG TOURS

I enjoy blog tours. I enjoyed my own, when I first published my novella in 2016, but I also enjoy hosting stops on other authors’ tours. It’s a great opportunity to get in touch with fellow writers and exchange experiences and writing tips. I suspect if I didn’t enjoy it so much, I might have given up on the first challenges of the Battle4May.

I had scheduled two blog tours, Innocence Lost at the end of February and Cherokee America at the beginning of March. I had plenty of time when I subscribed for the tours, still, as usual, I had to run in the end. But I loved talking both with Sherilyn Decter and Margaret Verble, and I loved both their stories, so that helped a lot.

By the way, Sharing is releasing her series now, one book every couple months. Check her out!

Battle4May - May - Blog tours and challenges, Instagram, and a novella relaunch: a busy beginning of the yearCHALLENGES

I’ve been taking part in the Reading Ireland Month since the first year this blog opened and I’m very fond of the challenge. I always enjoy reading about Ireland, especially history, though most of the bloggers taking part are book bloggers. So I’m particularly sorry that here is where I failed the most during my Battle4May.
I had four novels lined up for review for this month, but between the two blog tours and the preparation for the AtoZ Challenge I only managed to read one. I basically didn’t do any networking, which is the big big shame because the best part of this kind of challenges is visiting the other blogs. But hey! I mean to catchup!
The one novel that I read was very good, though. The Golden Grave, by fellow writer and friend David Lawlor. I’m really liking David’s Liam Mannion Series set during the Irish War of Independence and Civil War. He has a great sense of the period… and I just like adventures.

The AtoZ Challenge, which came at the end of a very intense three months of commitments, was particularly hard on me this year. I had precious little time to seriously research, in fact I’m not totally happy with my preparation. I kept reading during the challenge too, but at that point I had little opportunity to add the the actual posts… though I did learn new things as I went.
I am reasonably happy with the result, I learned a lot about the Berliner Cabaret during the challenge. But there is still so much to learn and share. So be prepared!
Here too, I had very little time to network, which I’m sorry about, though I have to admit the challenge seemed to be (but may be just my impression) a lot less lively than it used to be.

MIDDLEEARTHMARCH is an Instagram photo challenge happening in March (since the One Ring was destroyed on 25 March) devoted to everything Tolkien

On Instagram, I totally unexpectedly stumbled upon a Tolkien photo challenge for the month of March – the #MiddleEarthMarch – and since I didn’t already have enough on my plate, I though it was a good idea to join. What can I say? I couldn’t resist. I loved following along with so many Tolkien fans, seeing all the gadgets and the different editions of Tolkien’s work. Sharing anecdotes, impressions, favourite characters.
That’s why I love challenges.
This challenge also gave me the opportunity to give a more serious try at Instagram. It’s a social media that I love (maybe because I love visuals) but I’m having a hard time figuring it out. I’m generally not very good at social media, but here, I find myself at a loss more than elsewhere. Should I focus on the pic? Should I focus on the caption? Should the pic and the caption agree? Everyone says a different thing. I’m not displeased how the challenge went, but I’m still not sure I learned anything from it…

RELAUNCHING MY NOVELLA

I’d been meaning to relaunch my novella for more than a year, and now that I’ve done it, I’m quite happy with it. I love the new cover and the book trailer and I had a blast witht he scavenger hunt I organised for the relaunch.
Sure, I know this is not enough to keep the novella afloat. I even know that it’s not enough to have just the one book out, but that was a first step. I fully meant to keep following up.
I’ve seen a few scavenger hunts based on blogs out there and I loved the concept. I think I also grasped the mechanics well enough, in fact I have to say that I enjoyed the hunt a lot, even if I was the one who organised it… and it was a lot of work let me tell you. But I learned something very important (which the entire Battle4May taught me): schedules are magic! No matter how much we have to do, if we organise our available time, we can manage any task and any emergency. You bet I’ll keep this in mind!

READING

All these commitments involved a lot of reading, which is the reasons why I didn’t meet a couple of goals. I knew I was shooting too high, but hey! We have to try.
In addition to only read one out of four books for the Reading Ireland Month, I only read one and a half book out of three for the AtoZ Challenge… and I’m kind of sorry I seem to have read them in the wrong order.
Berlin Cabaret by Peter Jelavich is the first book I read and basically the one I based my AtoZ Challenge upon. It wasn’t bad, but it was a bit all over the place, I felt. Jelavich had big digressions over singular people, which in theory was good because it showed the lives of real cabaretists, but in fact bogged down the book a lot. Well, for me at least. He also had this odd idea that because cabaret rarely took a definite political stance, than it was not political at all. Kind of weird. But there you have it.
The Cabaret by Lisa Appignanesi was a totally different beast. True, it doesn’t only cover Berliner Cabaret, it covers in fact most of the cabaret’s history starting in the late 1800s and reaching the early 2000s, but I found it a lot more focused and to the point. It took a very different stance toward the political aspects of cabaret and on the whole I’m really sorry I only managed to read half of it before I started writing my posts. But hey! Food for more posts, isn’t it?

And through all of this, I kept reading along with my #YearOfTolkien group and I’m totally loving it. In these months, we finished the History of the Hobbit by John D. Rateliff and started the History of the Lord of the Rings and I find both of them not only insightful but also so very inspiring. Having a glimpse at Tolkien’s writing process is a privilege. Especially the earlier drafts are a discovery (the first draft of The Lord of the Rings, which we are currently reading, basically tells a different story from teh one we know, but it’s uncanny how we can see the final book in it already). I especially love reading the notes-to-self, because sometimes it is possible to see the genesis of an idea. That’s the case of the emergence of the One Ring as a character. It was absolutely fascinating to read.

The Return of the Shadow by Christopher Tolkien: the genesis of The Lord of the Rings

So, this is how it went.

It was a busy time, let me tell you. I think I deserve some rest not (if I tell it myself). Besides, I need to gather some energy for my next project: The Frozen Maze.


Gang Roundup - May 2019 (Weimar and the Cabaret) Unsurprisingly, the first post-AtoZChallenge link roundup is full of links about Weimar and the cabaret.

9 Comments

  • Shari Decter Hirst
    Posted May 13, 2019 at 23:09

    Congratulations on achieving both the public and private challenges you set for yourself, Sarah. Don’t forget to rest!

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted May 14, 2019 at 09:19

      Thanks Shari 🙂
      Well, I have a feeling I’m resting too much!

  • Roland R Clarke
    Posted May 13, 2019 at 23:56

    Many thanks for all the invaluable links and congratulations on the challenges.

    As a reader of historical novels from various periods, I care for accuracy in historical fiction – where possible without taking the guts out of the story. I’ve just read three novels – one set in the 11th century for which the documents are few so authors have to interpret; one around WWII and concerning Soviet women pilots and Nazi hunters so well-researched; and the third about spies & collaboration in WWI and WWII – again, well-researched. The latter two were by the same author and I’m reading a non-fiction book about Soviet women pilots which backs up the WWII novel.

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted May 14, 2019 at 09:47

      Oooh, Roland, the book about spies sounds so intriguing. What’s the title?

      • Roland R Clarke
        Posted May 14, 2019 at 23:03

        The ‘spies’ novel is ‘The Alice Network’ by Kate Quinn – and I will review it in a few weeks. I’ve put a short preliminary comment/status update on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32497595-the-alice-network

        I hope it’s visible prior to me reviewing it – five stars rising to even more; my wife gave it twenty. Anyway, it gets the maximum from other reviewers. The book with the Soviet female pilot is also by Kate Quinn – The Huntress.

        • Post Author
          jazzfeathers
          Posted May 15, 2019 at 10:08

          Oh, I’ve heard about it, and read contrasting opinions about it, though you are the second of my friends who speaks highly about it. My other friend told me the story leans more closely to WWI, so I thought maybe the many readers who are into WWII felt disappointed by the focus of the story.
          Me? I’ll probably find it more interesting for that very reason 😉

          • Roland R Clarke
            Posted May 16, 2019 at 00:05

            The spying element/storyline is firmly WWI, but the other storyline is set post-WWII in 1947. However, it resolves the WWI storyline and events in WWII – both storylines meeting cleverly. Some readers, I suspect, prefer novels set in a single time period and dislike ‘time-hopping’, but my wife and I loved that.

  • Birgit
    Posted May 14, 2019 at 21:19

    You have been busy! I enjoyed your A to Z Challenge very much and wish i could have joined but I knew my limitations this year. I love old photos so i will look at them right after leaving this comment. The video snippet of the German cabaret-is that a film or a TV series? I’d love to see this. I lie the homage to Josephine baker with the chorus girls and their banana skirts

    • Post Author
      jazzfeathers
      Posted May 15, 2019 at 10:12

      I think you did right to pass on the challenge this year, if you already knew you had limited time. It would have become a chore rather than an enjoyable experience, and this is not what the challenge is about.

      The clip is from the German TV series ‘Babylon Berlin’, which was aired in different languages too, so you’ll probably be able to have a look at it 😉

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