Reading: Annemarie Schwarzenbach – All the Roads are Open: The Afghan Journey (trans. Isabel Fargo Cole)

In the first winter of Berlin for me, my poverty and the hanging dread of unwanted return to Australia were I to not remedy it both were alleviated by my sublime almost-dachgeschoß looking south-east over Bötzow Brauerei and on down the low hill across the city as far as Kreuzberg. That winter, a whole month from December’s solstice was met with days of clear frozen sky and opalescent sun, and I lived on Brussels sprouts and Chinese five-spice. Hardest though, was a lack of books, even though my small zwischenmiete was lined with shelves. Then, as now, my german was far too mediocre.

I did plunder those books for names though, and pulled out the occasional one in english, which I subsequently swallowed whole. One name I found recently returned, three years later.

Annamarie Schwarzenbach, the kind of beautiful trouble I fall to, likely because I wish I was myself that, yet I am quite acquainted with the creative paucity such habits tend me towards. Still … “Fast cars, drugs, Lesbianism, Berlin in the 30s, fleeing to Central Asia, Afghanistan, affairs with the daughters of important and famous people …” what more can I say than I did in January three years ago?

Firstly, I don’t have to suffer the lack of her in english. I found an email some months ago reminding me of that post and … The email led to more going back and forth, (even reeling in Dasniya via a thread to Alte-Kantine) and finally on Friday, immediately after my new tyres, to the bus of Café Pförtner where I met Isabel Fargo Cole and Lucy.

Books changed hands.

Isabel has very kindly given me a copy of Annamarie’s All the Roads are Open: The Afghan Journey, of which I can say little beyond my delight; her and there! I took a pause from all my Afghan and Central Asian reading entirely because of the utter lack of women in the frame, and yet my attention keeps drifting towards there … Afghanistan, Iran. I won’t be reading this for a couple of weeks at least, as I have a throbbing mass of China reminding me that I deserted them for science-fiction.