Not so much “peeling the onion” as “applying the varnish”


Bertolt Brecht has a famous poem from 1933, “Germany, pale mother” (Fassbinder later used the words as the title for a film). The poem has an epigraph: “Let others talk about their shame, I will talk about mine.” Grass has done the opposite: he has carefully incubated his particular shame for 60 years, all the while encouraging others to talk about theirs. Now, possibly threatened by its imminent disclosure – the relevant documents have surfaced lately in Grass’s Stasi file – or in an attempt to keep some sort of “authorial” control over it, he has published it, and impertinently required readers to pay for it, the only significant revelation in a long and miserably bad book. This lifelong silence, and the manner of his breaking it, have hurt Grass’s reputation in ways from which it will never recover, and which, depressingly, he seems not even to have understood.

more from The Guardian here.