Excerpt from All Tomorrow's Parties by Rob Spillman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

All Tomorrow's Parties

A Memoir

by Rob Spillman

All Tomorrow's Parties by Rob Spillman X
All Tomorrow's Parties by Rob Spillman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2016, 400 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2017, 352 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

1

"Art should be life. It's an imitation of life. It should have some humanity in it."

—John Lydon
Soundtrack: Sex Pistols, "Holidays in the Sun," 1977

"THIS MUST BE THE PLACE." I point to the street signs above us, then back down at the flyer.

"If you say so," Elissa says.

"Where else should we possibly be?" I ask, and raise my glass. Four months before reunification, we are drinking a previously impossible-to-obtain West German wine at a makeshift sidewalk café stumbling distance from our illegal coldwater flat. Although the Wall has "fallen" the previous October, West German authorities don't yet have authority to cross into the East. When the German Democratic Republic (GDR) police's wages vanished, so did they. The only authority left here is the elite riot police and the remnants of the GDR's army. They keep order by bashing the skinheads and anarchists in running street battles every night. We haven't seen many other Westerners on this side of the Wall. Most are staying away until reunification. Young East Germans have looked out for us, twenty-five-year-old Americans, married less than two years, self-proclaimed bohemians crazy enough to live in the midst of their chaos. But to us it doesn't feel crazy; there is something alive and magical in the air, what it must have been like in the twenties when Marlene Dietrich was roaming the risqué drag clubs in men's clothes, when culture and politics collided and the possibilities were revolutionary.

Now, for East Germans, Berlin is reborn and in the month we've been living here everything feels possible. Two weeks ago, this wine bar was a boarded-up food market. Young locals pooled their money and drove through a gap in the Wall in a battered Wartburg which they filled with cases of West German wine, then smashed down the market's door and served the wine on the sidewalk on upturned cable spools scavenged from abandoned warehouses along the Eastern side of the Wall. Thus the Prenzlauer Berg Wine Bar was born and thus we became regulars, doing what was unthinkable only a year ago—publically downing a whole bottle of cold 1989 Pfälzer Landwein from the Rhine. Not that there aren't still risks. Almost every night the sirens sound, blaring like World War II air-raid warnings, winding up louder and louder, signaling that the riot police are coming in to clear the skinheads who are trying to firebomb the Autonomen (anarchist) squats nearby. All up and down our block the anarchists have taken over abandoned buildings and have painted them pink and are flying old East German flags with the hammers and compasses cut out of the centers. When the riot police charge in, they bust any and all heads they see. If the clashes aren't on our street, we'll wait out the alarm in our bullet-pocked archway, unrepaired since World War II, and if the melee is on our street we'll flee up the four flights to our apartment.

The sun is bleeding down, streaking East Berlin's grays and browns with fiery orange and red, warming the cold, gray buildings to create a pocket of calm, an oasis perfect for sharing our nightly bottle of wine before we head off to the CV, our other regular neighborhood bar, just across the park. I pick up the hand-drawn flyer that the young East German has dropped on our table, try to make sense of it. Black and red concentric circles telescope down to a black X, with the names "Dunckerstrasse" and "Lettestrasse" written below. We are sitting directly under the street signs for Dunckerstrasse and Lettestrasse.

"Thanks," I tell Michael. He's one of the earnest Bat Theater Studio guys who are still putting on plays and happenings in appropriated ex-government buildings despite, or to spite, the vanished socialist subsidies.

"But what is it?"

Excerpted from All Tomorrow's Parties by Rob Spillman. Copyright © 2016 by Rob Spillman. Excerpted by permission of Grove Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  German Reunification

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Bloodbath Nation
    Bloodbath Nation
    by Paul Auster
    In recent years, Booker Prize­–nominated novelist Paul Auster has increasingly turned to ...
  • Book Jacket: The Nazi Conspiracy
    The Nazi Conspiracy
    by Brad Meltzer, Josh Mensch
    The Nazi Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch was a big hit with our First Impressions readers...
  • Book Jacket
    Yonder
    by Jabari Asim
    The captivating historical novel Yonder turns an intimate lens towards the tragedy and survivorship ...
  • Book Jacket: After Sappho
    After Sappho
    by Selby Wynn Schwartz

    "Someone will remember us, I say, even in another time."
    —Sappho, fragment ...


Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Mitford Affair
by Marie Benedict
An explosive novel of history's most notorious sisters, one of whom will have to choose: her country or her family?

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    River Sing Me Home
    by Eleanor Shearer

    A remarkable debut about a mother's gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery.

  • Book Jacket

    Margot
    by Wendell Steavenson

    A young woman struggles to break free of her upper-class upbringing amid the whirlwind years of the sexual revolution.

  • Book Jacket

    Wade in the Water
    by Nyani Nkrumah

    A gripping debut novel of female power and vulnerability, race, and class set in a small Mississippi town in the early 1980s.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

It's A G T Me

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

Not doing more than the average is what keeps the average down.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.