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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Tomboy is an interesting novel about the influence of gender on all aspects of contemporary life. The setting is Heidelberg, Germany, a beautiful old city dominated by a castle on a hill overlooking the Nekar River, the University of Heidelberg, and dwellings that date back to the 1600s rebuilt from a devastating fire. Vivian, the daughter of a German mother and American GI father, is a 24 year old doctoral candidate, an Army brat living independently in the city and attending the University. As a child, she was described by her parents as a Tomboy, not satisfied with her physically limiting role as a girl. Now, she has immersed herself into the German culture exploring with her friends and instructors the role of gender in art, fashion, philosophy, identity, literature, psychology, military history, industry, and sexuality. She asks questions of key informants (her unique friends) and other acquaintances and strangers about their perceptions of gender importance.Her research helps Vivian to fourmulate questions that open one intellectual door after another. The role of gender in the military is interesting to me, since I was stationed in Heidelberg in the USAREUR and 7th Army as a military policeman in the 1970s. I am very familiar with the old town, scene of much of Vivian's questioning, and also the industrial areas close to Heidelberg like Mannheim where she widens her point of view. With this territorial base, Thomas Meinecke takes the reader on a tour de force of gender effects on human behavior and thought. The style is reminiscint of Thomas Pynchon with more tangential thinking per paragraph than the reclusive author of Against the Day. Readers should expect the style to be relentless in a sort of dissociative presentation of a stream of consciousness from the opening sentence to the closing line. There are so many topics presented in a rapid fire manner in the novel that it reminds me of the flight of ideas experienced in some mental disorders. However, Meinecke holds his thoughts in check with an iron-fisted rationality that guides the reader through the maze of disjointed ideas. Some of the authors and players mentioned in Tomboy who were greatly influenced by factors of gender are: Freud, Courtney Love, Heidegger, Foucalt, Mark Twain, Lacan, Baudelaire, Mann, Marx, Descartes, Fliess, D.H. Lawrence, Gross, Jung, Hegel, Bloch, Virginia Wolf, Wagner and many others. Some of the historical events and movements influenced by gender considerations in the novel are: aWW II, the rise of the Nazi movement, the course of Zionism, the Vietnam War, women's rights movement, anti-Americanism, trans-gender activity, changes in Catholicism, NASA progress, evolution of psychoanalysis, new understanding of normality, the decline of the USSR, fashion industry changes,Arianism, and many others. Vivian discovers the complexity of gender influences on all aspects of daily life. But, she can handle it intellectually and in her mundane activity. I was struck with the unmitigated boredom of the lives of Vivian and her friends that mirrored my recollection of Army life in the 1970s. I knew many University students I met at bars on Untere Strasse in the old town of Heidelberg. The pervasive sense of ennui in apparently pointless lives could only be challenged by choosing to take some things seriously, even though the points of view of civilians and military personnel were arbitrary and had no intrinsic value. Reading Tomboy was a type of mirror-gazing for me and will be for other readers even if they have never been to Heidelberg or have not served in the military. The enjoyment is in the experience of Meinecke's tangential thinking, flight of ideas, and crystal clear rationality in his writing. It argues for flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity in our existential stand as individuals as we long vainly for answers to Vivian's questions and resolution of tension on the next page.
Review: TomboyUser Review - Goodreads
A Challenging Read, An Introduction to Thomas Meinecke Thomas Meinecke, born in Hamburg Germany in 1955, is a German musician , writer and DJ who went on to study drama, modern German literature and ...