Besserwisser: A Novel (The Know-It-Alls)

Rated 4.75/5 based on 4 reviews
Munich, 1990: American expat slacker Gordy Ford poses as a top Hitler scholar, all to impress a girl. Stuck in his scam, Gordy soon thinks he's stumbled onto a shocking historical discovery that's made him the target of a wannabe Neo-Nazi and shady Russian mafia. There's comedy, satire, and a rowdy plot. Everyone's an impostor, and all get exposed despite their best efforts. More
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Words: 70,500
Language: English
ISBN: 9781452300726
About Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson is the author of the novels The Other Oregon, Liberated, Under False Flags, and The Losing Role among other works. Anderson was a Fulbright Fellow in Germany. He is also a literary translator. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Review by: Paul Samael on July 29, 2012 :
It’s easily done, isn’t it? One beer too many at the Munich Oktoberfest and somehow it becomes impossible to resist pretending that you’re a Fulbright scholar on the trail of sensational revelations about Hitler in the Munich archives. One thing leads to another and before you know it, you’ve also managed to attract (a) an enigmatic new girlfriend who seems, well, just a bit too good for you; and (b) the attention of some sinister but slightly inept neo-Nazi types. Well, this is what happens to our hero, Gordy, in this excellent comic novel from Steve Anderson. I particularly liked the deadpan humour but the author also manages to make Gordy sufficiently likeable (despite his many, many faults) that you care what happens to him – which is not always a given in fiction of this type. For a longer review, see:
(review of free book)

Review by: Dan Hughes on Nov. 06, 2011 :
An unusual read, and mind blowing entertainment.
(review of free book)

Review by: Shilka Publishing on June 10, 2011 :
I wouldn't have bought this if I hadn't read The Losing Role by the same author. This is quite enjoyable, but not as good as The Losing Role. I think that may be partly due to this being an earlier novel, and so the author's skills have improved, but it may also be that The Losing Role is the sort of book I'd usually read, whereas this was an unusual choice for me. The story is funny and believable, with interesting characters.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Dave Conifer on Feb. 14, 2010 :
A Hilarious Romp Through Bavaria

Besserwisser was a complete blast. Since I'm not a professional book-commenter-on guy I'd have just kept my mouth shut if I didn't like it, but I did like it. At the risk of using a cliché -- I LOLed on every page. The voice of the author worked perfectly, dropping lines like "...looking like a grinning, oversized Alfred E. Neuman look-alike (but more handsome) in Converse high tops and brown leather (okay, vinyl) bomber jacket."

When Gordy Ford's book deal collapses he finds himself alone in Germany with no means of support. Shortly thereafter as he looks for a solution he backs into a most accidental dilemma that gets more and more complicated as he tries to talk his way out of it while interacting with colorful locals. The story is laced with priceless cross-cultural jabs:

"You Americans, you have it easy, don't you?"

"What? I don't know, not all of us. You got it good too. We don't all get health insurance. Our beer sucks. And our coffee? S***."

And there was the hilarious characterization from an 'Ossi' (East German) perspective of 'Wessis' (West German) as "a smart, rich and lucky people, somewhat like Americans but not as smiley."

I don't want to pass out spoilers so I'll just say the dilemma revolves around some intrigue based on Germany's past, enhanced by some present day buffoons with whom the protagonist gets tangled up with. The plot was zany but had solid enough foundations that it didn't seem contrived. There were times when I wondered if the author could sustain the plot and humor all the way to the end but he did it (I'm still not used to the Kindle and although I understand percentages I never really get the feel for where I am in the book).

It was all wrapped up neatly in the end, with no cheating. I actually had that sad feeling that many of us get when we finish a good book and lose some new friends.

Nice job, highly recommended.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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