Excerpt from The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures by Jennifer Hofmann, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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

The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures

by Jennifer Hofmann

The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures by Jennifer Hofmann X
The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures by Jennifer Hofmann
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Aug 2020, 272 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Something must have happened. Bernd Zeiger had snored himself awake and did not know where he was. A wedge of light on the ceiling caught his eye. He followed its journey as it stretched and narrowed until the car from which it came disappeared down the road. Darkness returned to the bedroom like a calamity.

It was November, strong westerly winds and a drizzle. He strained his eyes into the shadows. A wooden dresser loomed next to his bed, dark and wide like the hull of a ship. A nightstand held up a clock and a tall glass of water. He looked at his things as if they were not his things, as if someone had entered and exchanged all his things for replicas of the things he should know. Lara, he remembered, was gone.

The wheezing nozzle of a cleaning vehicle approached along the cobblestone street. It hummed and rattled as it suctioned debris from the road. Loose newspaper pages, wet leaves, abandoned tin toys, umbrella skeletons, the bloated bodies of rats. Small-scale pandemonium. Zeiger pictured the driver as neckless and mustached, a sadist. Street cleaning arrived at 4:30, the loneliest hour. Beyond the receding noise of the vehicle the murmur of morning traffic echoed along Torstrasse. People driving to work, others returning from night shifts.

Zeiger's legs were caught in a complicated knot of sheets, his pajamas twisted almost entirely the wrong way around. A hand was clasping the edge of a pillow, his own. These were his things. Dresser, nightstand, pajama, pillow. The ancient, indisputable objects of his life.

The alarm clock pierced a hole in the darkness. He slapped at it like he would at a gnat. It was more than two hours earlier than his usual time, but anticipation had outraced his alarm. A thump in the apartment next door announced Schreibmüller, his neighbor, a blind man who refused government aid like walking sticks or guide dogs and navigated spaces by bumping through them instead. There was the choppy rhythm of another language, Ukrainian perhaps. Despite his disability, Schreibmüller seemed to be surrounded by a harem of women and preferred, as far as Zeiger had learned from stairwell encounters over the last decades, Eastern types with sharp cheekbones and porcine eyes. He had considered asking Schreibmüller how, logistically speaking, a blind man could determine a type, but the occasion for it had never materialized. The world threw mysteries at him in passing.

At sixty, moving into an upright position in the morning felt like an unconquerable task. There was an indentation in his mattress from many years of sleeping and it enveloped the loose meat of his body like the arms of a wife. If you wake at this age without pain, you're dead, an elderly woman had told someone in line at the Konsum. He had found that insightful. A lull in her voice suggested she longed for the latter state.

Management had assured him he would be finished at Hohenschönhausen jail by eight o'clock. The time he would, on normal days, go for cheese toast and milk coffee at the corner café, to see Lara, the waitress. He would keep his regular routine despite an irregular start to the day. That was a comfort, even if Lara had vanished several weeks ago.

A roar like that of an ailing beast echoed from the street. He stretched out an arm and yanked the cord of his nightstand lamp. Light replaced darkness; after street cleaning came trash collection. There was an order to things. Above the sound of the truck, garbage men hollered to one another, shouting combatively. Zeiger rolled toward the nightstand, gaped into the dusty light. He dropped his legs off the side of the bed. His feet found his slippers, gravity popped his bones into position. He rested his forearms on his knees, letting the folds of his body expand. Then he plucked his bathrobe from the hook by the nightstand and draped it over his shoulders. It took a moment to absorb the heat of his body.

Excerpted from The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures by Jennifer Hofmann. Copyright © 2020 by Jennifer Hofmann. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join & Save $10!

Discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten. One-year membership: $29

Find out more

Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Book Collectors
    The Book Collectors
    by Delphine Minoui
    About halfway through The Book Collectors, I was disappointed. I came into the book with a ...
  • Book Jacket: Blue Sky Kingdom
    Blue Sky Kingdom
    by Bruce Kirkby
    Who hasn't dreamed of escaping all of the trappings of today's modern life and finding a secluded, ...
  • Book Jacket: My Heart Underwater
    My Heart Underwater
    by Laurel Fantauzzo
    Corazon — Cory — Tagubio is a Filipina-American teenager living with her family in ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Sun
    Black Sun
    by Rebecca Roanhorse
    Reading the first book in a series is always difficult because readers know that, by definition, it ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    by Charlotte McConaghy

    An instant bestseller set on the brink of catastrophe, for readers of Flight Behavior and Station Eleven.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.



Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

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.