A young man searches for maturity in 1980’s Berlin
Jed, screwup son of an upper middle class Chicago family, comes to Berlin after rehab, to stay with his accomplished second cousin Cello, her German husband and her cute band of biracial boys. Only he understands that sophisticated beautiful Cello was once chubby Ruthanne, music student who literally choked her way offstage at every recital. Cello is being charitable, but Jed is clearly aware of his inferior status. Meanwhile, he is fascinated by hot German men and by the mysterious philosophical architect who takes a shine to Jed.
I bailed on this one after attempting fifty pages a night for three nights, each night falling asleep about fifteen pages in. This novel is a textbook case of the perils of the passive main character. The tension never built and never even started building, I think, to any sense of emotional stakes. I am still puzzling out why this happened as the setting was great, the initial setup with blood relative/twin Cello seemed fruitful, the narrator’s sometimes snippy tone and his pithy nuggets of information were interesting. I believe it was because there was no orchestrated conflict between Cleo and Jed. You can't build a novel on aphorisms.