by Allan Massie
Dimensions: 198 x 130 mm
Publication: 19 May 2014
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This is the story of Klaus Mann, son of Thomas and a bold political activist who strove beyond his father’s shadow to become an important author. Klaus was an exile, forced abroad while the Nazis defiled his homeland; a homosexual in a time of bigotry and intolerance; a heroin addict slithering between recovery and relapse. Above all he was a writer.
Allan Massie vividly imagines Klaus’s final days — traipsing from cafe to bar in the haze of his various vices, replaying a lifetime of affairs and relationships while he toils over an unfinished manuscript. Encounters with family, old flames and famous literary figures reveal the stems of his fragile state. References to Mephisto, his most famous work and the battle for its German publication expose the bitter fall-out with Gustaf Grundgens, his brother-in-law and ex-lover.
With compassion, familiarity and subtle prose, we are led into Klaus’s mind and discover the dashed hopes and inner turmoil of a flawed, singular character. Beyond the addictions and entanglements, Massie explores one writer’s struggle for identity and recognition in a time of historical and personal crisis.
"Not well known here, award-winning Scottish author/commentator Massie effectively portrays a man on the edge while revealing the devastation beyond. After World War II, Thomas Mann’s son Klaus returns to Germany from America, where his family has lived in self-imposed exile. Klaus, ever a struggling writer, has maintained a furtive homosexual life, claiming that coming out would hurt his anti-Nazi activism. Looking about Germany, he says repeatedly, “You can’t go home anymore,” acknowledging that the world has changed forever. Drugs and rent boys keep the pain at bay. VERDICT Fluid, understated, and precise; a telling portrait of a man in ruins." — Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
"[Allan Massie's stories] have in common a straightforward clarity, a feeling of dedication to the task of writing well." — The Scotsman