I Still Have a Suitcase in Berlin
Stephens Gerrard Malone
Local author Stephens Gerrard Malone's first novel, Miss Elva, was nominated for a Dartmouth Book Award, but latest, I Still Have a Suitcase in Berlin, would be better suited on the Governor General's list.
Beginning on the shores of Point Pleasant Park in 1932, young Haligonian Michael von Renner watches the steamer roll in that will take him to Berlin to care for his ailing grandmother. The far-from-worldly boy with a "stupidly honest face" soon finds himself in cabarets drinking coffee and smoking, surrounded by a clique of bohemians complaining about Otto Dix. And nothing's more exciting than Berlin's queer community, especially Jan, the flamboyant "overpriced whore."
As Michael struggles with his sexuality, the SS marches in step---becoming louder and louder until marching turns to bombing and friendship to love. Pacing flippant descriptions of sending Mein Kampfand chocolate home for Christmas along with images of being anally raped with a metal pipe, Malone subtly explores the dangers and depth of denial. A love story at heart, Nazi Germany is a chilling metaphor and setting for one man's struggle with his sexuality. The only ting harder than putting the book down is trying to shake it of when you're finished.