Blasmusikpop oder Wie die Wissenschaft in die Berge kam (literally: Brass Music Pop or How Science Came into the Mountains) is Vea Kaiser‘s first novel.
Finished on: 26.9.2017
Johannes Gerlitzen was the first person to leave St. Peter am Anger, a small mountain village, and to return as an academic, a Doctor (even if he had to trick a little to get his qualifications). Now his grandson, also called Johannes, is groomed by him to also go into science. And little Johannes takes that very seriously, although natural sciences are less his cup of tea. The rest of the village doesn’t really understand the Johanneses, and little Johannes doesn’t understand them, either.
I’ve heard many good things about Blasmusikpop and how funny it is, but I struggled with it. It does get better towards the end, but it does take some time until it gets there.
The book really starts to take off when little Johannes is a teenager. Then it’s pretty funny and rather engaging. Until then – and that’s a pretty long until, probably the first half or so of the book – it didn’t really engage me and I just kept reading because my family was so taken with the book.
But even the second half with teenaged Johannes really suffered from the fact that Johannes is such an insufferable, arrogant asshole who really got on my nerves. It really didn’t help that interspersed through the entire novel are “scientific” texts Johannes writes with anthropological observations of the villagers around him (from whom he feels entirely removed), in the style of Herodotus who reproduce all the ethnocentrism and racism of those texts and I just didn’t see the fun in that.
Plus, the female characters were entirely sidelined in the entire novel, only of interest insofar as they related to the men (mostly the Johanneses). And I’m really not into characterizations of women like that.
That being said, it’s a first novel and the longer it goes on, the better it gets, so there was something I could take away fom it. It just wasn’t a whole lot.