Review: Look Who’s Back

Look Who's Back
Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the end, I had to grit my teeth and force myself to finish this. It took me two months. Look, it’s a great concept: Hitler waking up in the modern world and then having to orientate himself, whilst plotting his rise to power and reboot of the Third Reich.

The satire, on the whole, didn’t work for me. There were a couple of genuinely funny moments in Hitler’s dialogue and some minor smiles from cleverly worked misunderstandings between Hitler and his colleagues at the ‘Flashlight’ production company. ‘Flashlight’ has taken Hitler on as a political satirist and given him his own TV and YouTube show.

The problem with this book is that it is really hard to feel any sympathy or connection with the main character. He’s Hitler after all. And he’s pronouncements on Jews, Russians, Poles, Turks, Asians, foreigners of all kinds, violence, gas chambers, concentration camps, the SS, ad infinitum is genuinely distasteful and at times horrific.

I wanted to like this book a lot more. It’s well written. It’s a great concept, but it is incredibly difficult to get past a distaste for the protagonist. And I guess what makes it also quite an unsettling read, in the end, is the sheer blind stupidity of everyone else in the book. Their inability to grasp the real agenda of Hitler and constantly misconstrue every single thing he says cannot be very far off the reality of what happened back in the 1920’s and 30’s that lead to his rise to power. People will see what they want to see, and not what is actually in front of them.

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About Steve Gooch

Steve Gooch was born in March 1962 in Rugby, Warwickshire in England and grew up there with his two brothers and sister. He moved to Corsham in Wiltshire and attended Bath Academy of Art, where he studied sculpture and printmaking, before going on to work on projects for the artists Joe Tilson and Nick Pope. He also helped with the publication of a limited edition folio of Paul Eluard’s poetry. Steve moved to London to study for a postgraduate teaching certificate and then worked as a teacher of art in the UK. He gained his MA in Education with the Open University and also studied the discipline of Reiki with his Reiki teachers in Newcastle upon Tyne. His daughter Marianne was born in 1994. For a period of time, Steve devoted himself to teaching Reiki in his hometown of Rugby, before moving to Egypt, where he resumed his career as an art teacher, becoming the Head of Art in a prestigious British International School in Cairo. He continued to teach Reiki, introducing the discipline for the first time to Egypt. He also wrote extensively on the subject for various Egyptian English-language magazines. Returning to the UK, Steve’s son Sam was born in 2004. Not wanting to go back into the teaching profession, Steve took a job as a chef in a vegetarian restaurant and wrote his first book ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do: The Way of Compassion & Wisdom’. It was the world’s first book on that particular tradition of Reiki and is still considered to be the standard reference work on the subject. Steve them moved to Sudan, where he was again Head of Art at the prestigious Unity High School, and built an online living history for the school, called 'The Unity High School Archive'. It was in the process of building this archive that Steve uncovered a major scandal involving senior members of the Anglican Church, local dignitaries, and members of the faith communities. As a consequence, he got to know the head of the Secret Police in Khartoum quite well and then promptly left the country. Steve moved back to Egypt and took up a post as Head of Art in a school in Alexandria. Very much involved in the Reiki community in the UK, however, he founded the national organisation ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do UK’ and became the editor of ‘Focus: The Journal of Reiki Jin Kei Do UK’, and then set up the global ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do International’. He also set up the global video-arts project '12seconds for Peace'. The concept grabbed the attention of a number of big names in the peace movement, including Nobel Peace Prize nominees, and threatened to go viral. Circumstances (revolutions and social unrest) put it on the back-burner. Likewise, a major peace initiative called the 'Global Concert for Peace', scheduled for the summer of 2013, which would have been the world's biggest musical event, also went on the back-burner. Steve moved to Saudi Arabia for a little over a year in 2014, before returning to Egypt to take up a senior management position in another British International School in Cairo. Finally, after a year of professional purgatory in which he realised that there is no such thing as a good British International School in Egypt, he decided ‘enough is enough’ and quit the teaching profession for good to focus on his writing, art and Reiki classes. He is currently living in Cairo and writing ‘The Temple of the Djinn’, which is loosely based on the events that he uncovered during his time in Sudan. He is also teaching Reiki and working freelance for a variety of Egyptian magazines. He misses the UK and is looking forward to spending more time in his home country with his children. He'd also like to find time to paint and make sculpture.
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