MOHR: A NOVEL
When a solitary man stumbles upon a cache of photographs, sometimes—and only sometimes—he can sense the lives of the people in them. Sometimes he can find in their faces, and in the way they hold themselves or the way they perform before the camera, the light trace of their story.
Following just that path, acclaimed novelist Frederick Reuss has created a love story of historic proportions. Mohr: A Novel is about a man and wife whose life together is marked irreparably by a deeply troubled and world-testing era.
With the sort of enthralling narrative step that always marks his work, Reuss allows their story to rise from a cache of photographs he uncovered in Germany—photographs from the 1920s and ’30s of the exiled Jewish playwright and novelist Max Mohr; Käthe, the beautiful wife he left behind; and Eva, their daughter, who would live through it all but would never really understand what had happened.
The interplay between Reuss’s revealing prose and the real faces in nearly 50 photographs offers a reading experience that may be unprecedented in novels. From the first paragraph and that first creased image, which Eva may have taken, of the Mohrs at their table in Germany just before Max walked away from their lives, this beautiful and powerful novel works as deeply on the reader as a family photo album.
$16.95 | Fiction Paperback | 6x9 | 320 pages
In early morning when the house is silent and the sun has not yet risen above the eastern ridges of the Tegernsee valley, it is tempting to think that the heartache that once filled these rooms is gone, vanished with another era. Open the front door, step outside into the morning air — crisp and frosty in winter, moist with dew and the smell of cows at pasture in summertime; walk the gravel path around to the side of the house, sit down on the bench, and watch the shifting hues of dawn on the steep slopes of the Wallberg. The cross on top of the mountain, like the one on the peak of the old farmhouse, has been there for so long that nobody notices it. This morning, you want to take in every detail: The crow calling from a tree at the forest edge, the vapor rising from the sun-warmed tree tops, leaning fence posts, peeling paint on the shutters and condensation on the window panes, the distant ringing of a bell. The morning gradually brightens and with it a sense that each of these details is crucial; and none is more crucial than the simple fact of your presence here. You grip the edge of the wooden bench with your hands, breathe in and out. Your breath condenses and the billowing steam makes you want to go inside and get your cigarettes; but, no, you also want to savor the first tobacco-free moment of the day, so you remain.