Bedtime Stories from East Berlin

Flake Lorenz reads Der Tastenficker in Berlin, the 17th of January.

“When I discovered the Rolling Stones, my mother enthusiastically came dancing into the room. Cheerfully, she informed me, that this Mick Jagger of mine was exactly as old as she was. It wasn’t something I was keen to learn since I would always think of my parents whenever I heard the Stones. After that, the Stones weren’t even half as good anymore. I also got into the Dead Kennedys since they were playing so fast and hard. What can I say? My mother was quite impressed with them as well, and told me that Jello Biafra was a left-wing local politician and that alone made her like him. So that music was spoiled too. But the worst thing of all was when my parents came to a concert. Just knowing that my mother was in the audience, freaked me out. And once I saw her, excitedly swaying to the rhythm of our music, I felt caught, as if I had behaved like the good boy for her for years, and withholding the music I was making.” – Flake, Der Tastenficker

“No one, and I say no one, would ever give a toss about this book if I hadn’t been in that band,” Christian Flake Lorenz writes on the back of his book, “Der Tastenficker – an was ich mich so erinnern kann” (Schwarzkopf&Schwarzkopf 2015). Critics and fans alike begged to differ.
Maybe the book didn’t cause quite the stir that his colleague’s, Till Lindemann, volumes of poetry did, and continues to do, most likely because of two reasons: it has yet to be translated into other languages, and that people who expected the juicy inside scoop from one of the most talked about metal bands in the world would be dearly disappointed. But that may soon be a thing of the past. “Yes, I’d love to write another book, since writing was so much fun,” says Flake to the German magazine, Strassenfeger. “In any case, I’d like to try to write a book about my time in Rammstein since I’ve had a lot of really amusing experiences there too.”

Until then, we can enjoy Der Tastenficker. Even if it’s written in German, most people with even a rudimentary knowledge of the language could read and understand a lot of the passages. It’s written as a continuous train of thoughts, a monologue if you will, in a straight forward, honest manner without any frills or poetic circumlocutions. Flake’s dry humour and keen sense for the absurd mix well with the nostalgic recounts of happier days, back in the GDR. It could never be used as a text book on the former East Germany, but this is Flake’s book, his memories and his experience. “There are a lot of books published for the 25th anniversary of the German Unity, and if you should read only one of them, it’s “Der Tastenficker“, in which the GDR looks like something you can remember,” wrote Die Welt in its review in 2015.

As a promotion of the book, Flake set out on a reading tour, which in itself is quite a feat given that he has suffered from stuttering since early childhood. “I could hardly get a word out when I went to the store to pick up groceries,” he said in an interview. “I resorted to only ordering things that I could say. Anything with an initial “k” was a complete no-go. Same thing with my name. ‘“Flake”, what kind of an odd name is that?’ people would say. Well, for one, I could pronounce it…”

The reading tour, taking place throughout Germany during the first half of 2015, proved to be a success, and not only among the die-hard Rammstein fans. Still, the author was a little hesitant about the endeavour. “I don’t really know how to do it. To tell the truth, I’m a little scared of this. I have only once been at a reading and that was comical, somehow. The author sat there and read from his book with a bunch of vociferous old grannies around him. Completely unexciting. But I couldn’t think of anything better, though. If someone has a suggestion, I’m game. But they wanted me to read something, so I’m going to read something from the book,” he said in an interview with Laut.de before his tour started. And on which parts he was going to read? “No idea, I haven’t even read the book through myself yet. First, I have to see what it is that I have written. But most likely, I’ll read from the easier chapters. About my first performance or my apprenticeship as a toolmaker, for example. I’ll just let it come to me.”

And so he did. So well, in fact, that he also recorded an audiobook, which went on sale in 2016.

“I figured that if people don’t have time to read, they can listen instead. In the car or wherever.”

Do not mind if we do!

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