Finally. FINALLY. The novel I’ve been working on for at least year can go public. It’s called Hitler, My Hero and its first installments are live at hitlermyhero.com.
The project began with William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Its fourth page contains the following passage:
“A few moments later they witnessed the miracle. The man with the Charlie Chaplin mustache, who had been a down-and-out tramp in Vienna in his youth, an unknown soldier of World War I, a derelict in Munich in the first grim postwar days, the somewhat comical leader of the Beer Hall Putsch, this spellbinder who was not even German but Austrian, and who was only forty-three years old, had just been administered the oath as Chancellor of the German Reich.”
Couple the above observations with Hitler’s foreigh policy triumphs, his wartime conquests, his promising but ultimately disastrous campaign in the East and his suicide alongside the love of his life in a besieged Berlin. What do you get? In my case, the following marginalia.
Those capable of deciphering my handwriting will read the words, “Self-help, Hitler style”. In that moment, that is what I envisioned: a parody of the archetypical rags-to-riches story with Herr Hitler as the protagonist. Further, I imagined the story told in a way that caused the reader not only to sympathise with Hitler, but to feel an authentic mixture of compassion and admiration for all that he was and all that he did.
That idea faded quickly, however. Not only did I not reckon myself a possessor of the wit and competence required to pull off such a parody, I sensed a deeper mystery. One that, to me, held greater appeal. What would happen if Hitler really was deified? How would our perception of Hitler’s words, thoughts and deeds change if we tore away the lenses of morality and propriety? More importantly, who would be capable of such a vision and why would he or she think it necessary or valuable to propagate it? My non-answer arrived in the character of James Barker, an amoral trickster intent on releasing cognitive dissonance into the world at large.
These questions and that character are the dirt within which Hitler, My Hero is rooted and it is my hope that from such ground a beautiful flower will grow. Time will tell, I suppose.
*From now on, this blog will not host updates regarding the novel–I’ll probably post when it is done and up for sale, though. All updates will now be confined to a separate list which can be subscribed to at hitlermyhero.com. I can also manually add subscribers to the list if people ask me to do so.