THE BREAD OF THOSE EARLY YEARS by Heinrich Boll
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THE BREAD OF THOSE EARLY YEARS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The narrator ""slits open [his] memory the way you slit open a coat lining to remove the coin you have felt in there. . . ."" He hopes it's a mark, but, alas, he has the feeling it will only be ten pfennigs. Something's there and it's still ':precious."" Boll's slight but compressed novel, published in Germany in 1955, tells of one day in the life of a young man who has settled into the trade of repairing washing machines after many failures, both in school and in other apprenticeships. His meeting and involvement with the daughter of his hometown school principal totally upsets his measured out existence and forces him to re-view events, people, and his own actions from earlier, postwar years of poverty and of a hunger that could never be assuaged--even by the bread ""to which he was addicted as a person might be addicted to morphine."" Here is an examination of conscience in which, this time, he confronts ""the wolf that lived inside myself."" There is no room here for the larger ironies that mark Nobel Prize winner Boll's later works nor for the symbolism you find in some of his stories. The scale is smaller but the simplicity, the directness, and the perceptions of human frailty are tellingly present.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
Publisher: McGraw-Hill