Olympia: A Novel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Drawing on imaginary outtakes from Riefenstahl's infamous film of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, Dennis Bock weaves together the lives of a family living in the shadow of history.
Olympia is the story of post-war German immigrants, as told by their son Peter, born in the New World and raised in the sixties and seventies.
Though great figures and events of mid-century touch the lives of this remarkable family, it is the private histories, the grand failings and small triumphs of Peter's family that remain etched in the reader's imagination. From Ruby's struggle to rise above her leukemia and her father's love of severe weather and killing tornadoes, to the saint who witnesses a miracle at the bottom of a drowned Spanish village.
Set against the backdrop of some of the most significant Olympic moments of our times--the Nazis' stylish and sinister glorification of the Berlin Olympics and the 1972 Munich hostage--taking in which 11 Israelis were murdered--Olympia offers a bold and refreshing perspective on the tragic relationship between Germans and Jews in this century.
Bock writes with insight and clarity in a breath-taking, beautiful prose that signals the debut of a brilliant new talent.
Sundays we eat like the Europeans do: big late lunches with lots of desserts. They tell us what the drive was like, how the weather is in Kingston. They say hello for the friends my parents haven’t seen since they lived there briefly, before I was born. “Irene wishes you’d come for a visit soon,” my grandmother says in her curving Silesian accent. “You don’t know how she misses you.” I’ve seen pictures of Irene. She’s tall with red hair like my mother’s, but somehow American-looking. I remember
two hours to get to the top. I keep running ahead, thinking I’ll have a better chance at discovering a deer posing among the pine trees if I forge on alone, without the chatter of a clumsy hiking party and the click of an old man’s walking stick. I double back, panting. Ruby’s holding Willy’s elbow as they walk, prattling on to him in English. He smiles, understanding nothing. When we reach the top Willy leans over and says into my ear: “Say something. Yell something.” My German’s just good
Tornadoes were our jackpot. Sometimes we’d be gone entire weekends looking for storms. My father took off work when word came in that something was brewing on the horizon. Sometimes we’d drop Ruby off at the gym in Burlington on our way out to the storms. From the car the three of us would wave to my mother on the doorstep as we pulled out of the driveway, the look of sadness and confusion already marked across her forehead, and she would wave back and stand with her arm in the air until we
clay plates, and a pair of dentures, but we always left things as we found them. Over lunch that day Nuria told my parents about her family. We were at Casa Pepe, our favourite restaurant in town. There was a hotel upstairs where we often stayed when we came to dive. After we ordered lamb with baked garlic potatoes and a pitcher of beer, I leaned back in my chair and saw a donkey through the doorway that led out to the back patio, roped to an anchor, chomping on a pile of weed clippings. The
suit. The dark tie around his neck seemed to have held the same knot since the first day he tied it. I could already see him planning bus tours from all over Spain and the rest of Europe. These hills and this water would be billed as the elixir of love that would lead to a second honeymoon, and a second chance for this town. We shook hands all around and a small girl in a red-and-blue dress with an embroidered apron around her waist stepped forward and offered my mother and father shortbread on a