When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamín Labatut
Book Review/ 10. April 2022

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut My rating: 1 of 5 stars This is one of the very few books I’m not finishing. Let me explain why: The problem with this one is that Benjamín Labatut introduces the history of an invention to us. Let’s take the first story on “Prussian Blue” as an example: Labatut starts by shortly describing the invention itself and what lead to it. He then proceeds to tell us about the inventor(s) and how they relate to each other and the world. Labatut does this, and that’s my first issue, at break-neck speed. He drops name after name after name and forms connections between them in rarely more than a single sentence. It’s exhausting and not very illuminating. Much worse, though, whenever there’s insufficient historical evidence Labatut chooses the most lurid and raciest possible explanation. For example Fritz Haber’s (Haber played a most prominent role in chemical warfare) wife, Clara Immerwahr, did commit suicide – but the reasons are unclear. Immerwahr’s marriage to Haber was unhappy on many levels and she may or may not have been against World War I – there are conflicting accounts. Labatut, though, decides to paint…

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Book Review/ 4. March 2022

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid My rating: 4 of 5 stars Oh, well, another difficult review to write… I really did like this book and while writing this very sentence I’m still unsure what my final verdict will be. Evelyn Hugo, fictional Hollywood icon, is – to me – an immensely likeable person: Starting her career in the 1950s she works her way up to become a legend. That alone would already have made for an interesting read because I grew up on films from the Golden Age of Old Hollywood. When I first read the title I immediately thought of Elizabeth Taylor (eight marriages, seven husbands…) whose work in the film industry has indeed inspired Reid (as I just found out). Just like fictional Evelyn Taylor has been a staunch ally of the LGBTQ* community and an early HIV/AIDS activist. More than that, how could I not like a bisexual woman who lives through eight tumultous marriages? In a time, more than 20 years into the 21st century, during which still way too many countries, peoples and people do not accept love between consenting adults regardless of their sexual identity and preferences – how…