Berlin Noir by Thomas Wörtche (Wortche)

Berlin Noir

Berlin Noir by Thomas Wörtche (Wortche)
English | 2019 | Mystery/Thriller | ePUB |3.2 Mb

Berlin Noir : Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city.

Berlin does not make it easy to write noir fiction—or perhaps Berlin makes it too easy. Noir tradition casts a long, influential, and even daunting shadow. Alfred Döblin’s and Christopher Isherwood’s works, some of Bertolt Brecht’s plays, the Morgue poems by Gottfried Benn, M by Fritz Lang, and many other narratives from the first third of the twentieth century, all of which are tinged with noir, set high intellectual standards, and literary and aesthetic benchmarks that are hard to surpass…

Neither Döblin nor Benn, Brecht nor Lang, catered to any crime fiction traditions. They merely steeped their literary projects in a great deal of noir. And so it is with most of the stories in our anthology: they do not necessarily follow the usual patterns of crime fiction, but regard noir as a license to write as they wish, a certain way of approaching the city, and a prism through which its nature is viewed…What’s left is history. It is omnipresent in Berlin at every turn; the city is saturated in a history full of blood, violence, and death.

“I happened to be at the Lang Bar when she gathered her followers together for the last time. I’d not planned to go out that evening. This was right before my law degree exams, and I had other things to do; but then the attorney from the firm where I’d done my internship invited me there, and with an eye toward my future career, I wasn’t going to turn him down. I was hoping not to meet my sister; but, of course, she was sitting there happily in the midst of her admirers with a nonalcoholic cocktail in front of her—she barely drank at that time because she didn’t like the taste—and waved to me excitedly. I said a quick hello, mentioned my business meeting, and sat down with the attorney. A good hour later, she got up to leave, but the lawyer asked her to join us at the table; I found it embarrassing, though it couldn’t be avoided, especially as Dora was so gregarious. We were drinking tea and talking about a case that I’d worked on as a legal clerk. He offered Dora a cup, which she accepted with a shrug. I remember this because she never used to drink tea or coffee. But I understood that she wanted to appear more grown-up, to somehow reduce the eight-year age gap between us. She was pretending that she didn’t think it was stuffy and conservative to drink tea. Smiling, she threw back her hair and answered the attorney’s questions about her majors and exam subjects, and what she was going to do later on.

Then, all of a sudden, I noticed that she had grown tight-lipped and distracted. She stared into her tea, looked around nervously, then stared back into her tea. If she’d been shy, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but this wasn’t typical of my sister. I asked her if she was okay, but she only muttered that something was wrong, then stood up and left the bar, even forgetting her purse.

“Young girls at that age,” was all that the lawyer said, and we resumed our conversation.

When I returned to our father’s roomy apartment in Uhlandstrasse, where I still lived for financial reasons, I found her sitting on the bed in her room, staring into space. There was something in the tea, she said. I asked her to elaborate, and she said that something had appeared on the surface and had risen with the steam. It had been impossible for her to drink. I asked why she hadn’t ordered something else, and she said, “Because I had to leave. It didn’t want me there.”


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