Pulp Fiction (Frankfurt Book Fair)
In the following hours of this second, renowned as the most hectic, day of the Book Fair, both public and hidden events came thick and fast between the Westend, the cider-soaked southern district, the railway station and the north of Frankfurt. As night fell, the memory of the so tragically deceased Louis Freytag was honoured by the publisher Dr Hesselbrecht at the famous reception for critics, his wife reading letters that Freytag had sent her, while elsewhere in the city a horrific murder was uncovered – but before then a fair amount more was to happen in Frankfurt.
There was such a crush of people that Willem played the trump of his new ID card immediately, and so moved quickly to the front. He had agreed to meet Lou right in the middle of the main stand; she went to the book fair every year and knew it well. But she was nowhere to be seen, which didn’t surprise him, given the crowds.
It was, as already mentioned, the fair’s second day. Television celebrities and politicians honoured each other with their presence, always with a book in one hand or, even better, arm-in-arm with an author. But Hold knew nothing of these practices, he was just surprised when a man appeared who looked like the German Chancellor, who Hold knew from crumpled Spiegel magazines that had made it as far as the German bars in Manila. With a minimal escort, the man walked over briskly and started to shake hands with everyone, Hello, how are you?, while Vanilla stopped signing books in a flash and jumped up, reaching the Chancellor’s eye-level with the help of her life-threatening high heels. Now he was also saying Hello, how are you? to Hold and, with a glance at his ID, added a familiar My dear Kussler, but upon receiving an answer, and particularly by the answer itself, which was Thank you, and you?, was obviously thrown for a minute. He couldn’t help stopping, this stop near Vanilla Campus and her sex self-help book had not been foreseen. While his entourage moved on as planned, he asked a question that was just as unexpected, which book he thought was most important this autumn, and Hold didn’t hesitate a moment before naming Body Motion. This was followed by a hysterical noise from behind them, the noise girls make when they unwrap a cuddly toy, and a Right, aha, okay, from the Chancellor, as he gestured to one of his people to remember the tip, and not a minute later Willem Hold, as the critic of the Süddeutsche newspaper, was sitting opposite the celebrity author Vanilla Campus for an interview, almost knee-to-knee in a little cabin reserved for such purposes on the Bertelsmann stand. Its size and temperature were those of a home sauna.
Feuerbach stood in front of the lobby of the Frankfurter Hof hotel. This late in the afternoon it resembled nothing so much as an army camp. It was the hour between the hard business at the fair and the evening’s cocktail receptions, where all you needed to do was to know your friends from your enemies. Camera teams were sitting on the floor waiting for star authors, who were stuck in traffic jams or who knows in what else, while all the easy chairs were taken by puffing agents, on their mobiles to someone or other. It seemed as if a war was raging in Frankfurt, and essentially it was – the five-day war of the most marketable of all earthly goods: meaning.
More than anything else, people were waiting for Vanilla Campus, who was to arrive any minute, and they passed the time spreading rumours, among them the one that the bad boy author Ollenbeck was no longer suspected of having killed Louis Freytag. Campus was his alibi. And then some other news was circulating, that their fellow critic Kussler had been found under a toppled pile of copies of Body Motion. People were talking of an attack motivated by his reviews, with the consequence that the whole guild of critics felt threatened now and the famous critics’ reception hosted by the Frankfurt publisher Hesselbrecht had to take place under police guard for the first time. Times weren’t what they used to be, and yes, some called Freytag’s death the industry’s own 9/11.
Feuerbach was only vaguely aware of all this. The whole scene was so odd to him, more than that: it disgusted him. What kind of people were they, waiting for hours for a woman who hadn’t had a single new idea about sex. He had skimmed through her self-help book in a so-called Readers’ Café, over a slice of eco-friendly cake, and then in a cider bar, over the usual stuff, to see what he thought of it, but cake and cider – mainly the latter – had soon made reading difficult; and so he thought he had better meet the author, to get a feel for whether she was involved in the robbery or not. He had been standing in the crowded lobby for almost an hour now, postponing a much-needed visit to the men’s: an impossibility for him in such a hectic environment. And when Campus didn’t step out of the stretched limo - but instead of her the television host and author Wickert did, accompanied by Dolly Buster and Christa Wolf - Feuerbach left the fine hotel just before 6 pm.
Kirchhoff, Bodo :
Schundroman / Bodo Kirchhoff. - 4th ed. -
Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt, 2002. - 316 pp.
pp. 178-180 und pp. 186-187; with omissions
Translated by Stefan Tobler