To be able to describe moments in history is great. To be able to make others feel some tension from the collision between human history and a nation’s history is a gift. Hensher’s description of a brief moment in the life of Friedrich and of how he perceives the falling of the Berlin Wall represents a portrayal of mixture between small moments that culminate into a big event.
Life is meant to be lived as a series of events, and sometimes the events come together and mix and mash into something much greater than the person. To try to think that you can be the piece of the puzzle that can change the game is an erroneous way of thinking. Friedrich and Mr. Picker want to do just that, with their plan to sell drugs in East Germany in order to show them what fun they are missing in a liberal society. It’s a mocked plan, and even Friedrich doesn’t abide by it, in fact he plans to take the money from Picker and go his way, but his nature, and the fact that he starts to like Picker as a person makes him act otherwise. He returns the money, confesses the whole scheme and in the end resumes a somewhat strong friendship with Picker.
The other characters Daphne and Marion represent two different things. Mario a socialist spy, that betrayed his father and fled to West Germany and organized a fraction to undermine the political state of Federal Germany, and Daphne a young student, in love, and with minimal political aspiration or beliefs behind her action. Although they manifest themselves against the structures of society, each seems to think that no political system could in fact do justice to the people. It is the people who must choose how to act. Not a pamphlet or political dissemination. Yet this is what they try to achieve by their vandalism of capitalist small businesses.
At first the novel didn’t startled me with a great sense of something great happening, but by the end I was glad to be able to have read it.