Thursday, 21 February 2008

Literary DJs

German writers are cetainly not immune to that fashion for demanding money for sharing their record collections with the general public known as DJ'ing. The most famous is no doubt Wladimir Kaminer, whose first book is even called Russian Disco. He DJ'ed at a party at the Leipzig Book Fair two years ago, and a crazed fan shouted at us (sat at the table next to him before he started his set), "Do you know who that is? It's the master himself!" I once also stood next to him at a bizarre event run by the post-communist newspaper Neues Deutschland, more by coincidence than anything else (my standing next to him, not the event). I think I must be in about 100 photos taken by near-hysterical fans, still wondering no doubt who on earth I am that I got to stand so close to him. The friend I was with hadn't recognised him, and asked me slightly too loudly "Who is that guy? Why are they all taking photos?" to which I was forced for reasons of coolness to shrug nonchalantly.

Then there's my actual genuine mate Andreas Gläser, whose second book DJ Baufresse should have done a lot better than it seems to have done so far. His website lists his readings and his DJ sessions under the same heading: Gigs. He has a very well looked after and eclectic record collection that he airs at irregular intervals. And he wrote a story about how record shops should be more like Thalia bookshops - think Waterstones in a slightly tasteless blue and green look.

There are plenty more of them. Nowadays, it seems, any male writer under the age of 45 feels obliged to impose his musical taste on the rest of us. Which can be a fairly insightful experience. Imagine you love a writer's work but absolutely hate their record collection. Would it make you feel less warm inside about the whole thing? Is it going too far? Do we want that level of intimacy? Total Wladimir Kaminer? Not just the cookbook by his wife and the audio travel guide, but the Russian soul compilation CD and the matching shapka?

Tonight is a kind of a litmus test for me. One of my fave authors, Selim Özdogan, is giving a rare reading in Kreuzberg, followed by a DJ session. We shall see if I survive the experience with my love of his writing intact.

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