Ben Sandman at the LARB:
To read Käsebier Takes Berlin today, more than 80 years after its original publication, is to experience occasional shocks of recognition. Many have noted the similarities between Weimar-era Germany and the Trump-era United States, and in Käsebier, these parallels sometimes come to the fore. As Duvernoy notes in her introduction, the rise of Käsebier is, in effect, the result of a story gone viral. In one passage, we come across the phrase “fake news.” In another, Miermann expresses something similar to the news fatigue so many Americans feel: “I’m always supposed to get worked up: against sales taxes, for sales taxes, against excise taxes, for excise taxes. I’m not going to get worked up again until five o’clock tomorrow unless a beautiful girl walks into the room!”
This last line — the mention of a “beautiful girl” — calls to mind another unnerving parallel: Käsebier’s rise seems not dissimilar to that of our president, Donald Trump. The singer fills a vacuum, and his unlikely success has much to do with his cultural moment. The difference, of course, is that Käsebier is comparatively harmless, a cheesy singer granted a year in the spotlight.