At the first reading, I sat on a sofa made out of books and read my story about impossible love. How much would people understand? The rest of the readings had been in German. I sat there listening to the texture of the language, and words I understood popped out like crocodile heads in that arcade game where you have to hit them down again with a club. It felt good to read, it is something I love doing. I would like to have a job where I just read stories to people, like the village letter writer, I could be the village story reader.
I read last, after three men, all of whom left straight after they had finished. Once the applause faded, their coats were on and they were down the stairs. There was a big reading at the Moritz Bastei that they were all going to. At least most of the audience stayed to hear me. As I read, one man smiled beamingly the whole way through. He was in his 50s, I guess, wearing a yellow jumper, sitting up very straight, and looking very very happy. I read my story for this man.
After I finished, Ulrike read the translation of it. It is the first time I’ve had something translated, it is a strange experience to hear your story made into something else. I like it, it was like it was not mine anymore, it was alive and it had evolved. Ulrike and I are exchange partners, I guess I would say, she came to Sydney last year. I felt like we were both given the same set of blocks, but when we held up our constructions, despite being of the same stuff, they looked completely different. Mine had structural faults.
The second reading was at the launch party of the student anthology, Tippgemeinschaft. There were white blossoms in big glass vases and white tablecloths. Each of the authors in the anthology had a corresponding portrait, which was printed on postcards and also slipped into matchboxes. The matchbox on my seat had Alexander Langer in it, which I decided to take as a good sign, Alexander is one of my lucky names.
But Alexander did not help me. I could only read a few pages before I had to stop. The terrible cough that had been plaguing me for the last few days took over and I had to stop at the end of a paragraph about ice buckets and apologise that I could not read any longer. I went back to my seat in the front row, feeling disappointed. One of the presenters of the evening got up and said how sorry she was, and that I must get better.
“Can you get everyone to say it?” I asked, and she did!
”1-2-3 Get Better!” the whole room said in unison.
Afterwards, Ryan said that this was probably the only time this has ever happened at a literary event. He is possibly correct.