Clemens Meyer [ Germany ]
Clemens Meyer was born in Halle/Saale in 1977 and grew up in Leipzig. On leaving school he worked as a construction aid, furniture transporter and watchman. He studied at the German Literature Institute in Leipzig from 1998 to 2003 and in 2002 received a literature grant from the Saxon Ministry for Art and Science. One year later he was the first writer in residence of the »book village« Mühlbeck-Friedersdorf. Having been awarded first place in the 2001 MDR literary competition, he received second prize for the short story »Nachspielzeit« (t: Injury time) two years later.
After publishing texts in various anthologies Meyer presented his first novel in 2006, entitled »Als wir träumten« (t: As we dreamed). The novel revolves around the memories and experiences of the narrator Daniel Lenz, who probes freedom with his clique in Leipzig's east immediately after the collapse of the Wall. Alcohol, drugs and misdemeanors of various kinds are the stuff of what Daniel's days and nights are made of. »Als wir träumten« tells the story of teenagers whose transition into adulthood is doomed. There is only one certainty for them – that life is a struggle. Nevertheless they daydream, going out in search of fun. The former Young Pioneers, soon to be Crash Kids, thus trudge through the nocturnal streets of Leipzig. In order to understand these characters it is essential to consider their relationship towards violence. Petty crimes – auto jacks, theft, bodily harm – violence, used in states of affect, are the main influences on these youths' attitudes and behaviour. The battles between »ticks« and »baldies«, in other words between the Left and the Right, is not politically motivated – it is the turf war of a young generation that cultivates the »rebel chic«; for example, when the protagonist says he feels »better than James Dean, although it hurt«. The depictions of violence are contrasted with sentimentally loaded relationships between the protagonists. The code of honour among prison inmates, in which the motif of betrayal is already present, extends from the blood brotherhood of Indian games.
As for »hard-boiled« narrators, Meyer's mentors all bear American names: Hemingway, Chandler, Carver are the »godfathers« of his terse story-telling. The novel's style, rich in dialogue, is laconic, with gaps and shortfalls. The characters and material of disillusionment, the margins of the city and society provide the mould that shapes the author. Meyer lives in Leipzig, in the neighbourhood that provides the novel's setting. To date he has found the material for his writings in his immediate surroundings: »Emile Zola wandered through derelict quarters in search of writing material, and I live there.«
Meyer was awarded the Prize of the Leipzig Bookfair for his collection of short stories, »Die Nacht, die Lichter« (2008) in 2008.
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