onefortywords

teaching unplugged – in brief

Gdansk for the memories

Chain bookstores like Waterstones (the others have all gone bust) seem designed to put you off reading. Smaller bookstores can throw up surprises, like Mercedes-Benz by Gdansk-born Pawel Huelle. It’s a novel about conversation, in which a series of driving lessons becomes a winding route through one family’s – and a whole country’s – history. In one passage, the narrator reflects that ‘the relationship between instructor and student doesn’t rely on simple instruction or commonplace teaching, but on telling each other beautiful stories, on the sort of verbal communion that brings people together over and above gender, politics and origin.’ Classroom stories aren’t always beautiful, but the process of sharing them can be. Huelle’s narrative carries distant echoes of Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire as it explores the gaps in time, employing a distinctly Polish unmagic realism: humorous, sardonic and wise.

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