on Sep. 10, 2014 :
Unexpected Odyssey: Danzig to Tennessee, By Klaus Leuhenig and edited by E.H. Peterson lives up to its intriguing title - and a heck of a lot more. As a personal memoir of his own life, Leuhenig tells the incredible tale of his and his family's journey from war-torn Germany to the peaceful hills of East Tennessee, with all stops on the way, such as the seemingly incongruous episode I call, "Brooklyn Pizza, Im deutschen Stil" (Brooklyn Pizza, in the German manner).
Leuhenig was most fortunate to have his mother's own memoir, which is the basis for events, people and places prior to Klaus' own memories, including the accurate tale of how the short-sighted Treaty of Versailles made possible the rise of Nazism and that most despicable villain of the Twentieth Century, Hitler.
To call what happened to Klaus and his family an "Unexpected Odyssey" is somewhat lacking in that it hardly conveys the depth of the Author's "Trip," an ongoing saga now more than 74 years in the making. "Odyssey" can be seen as a metaphor for a truly Homeric life of travels - and travails, and a tale worth telling and reading.
If I were asked, "What role would best fit Klaus Leuhenig?" I would respond with: Ship's Captain, where he also assumes the duties of Sous Chef, while Counseling his shipmates on their troubles and addictions, while manning the helm as Captain, only to be found down in the engine room diagnosing a noise emanating from a failing bearing, this also an Engineer.
(reviewed 48 days after purchase)
on Aug. 16, 2014 :
Comments on Unexpected Odyssey:
The memoir reads like a “bildungsroman” of a young lad in the 18th-19th C. with a youthful resolve to pursue a chosen path regardless of obstacles and without the financial means to undertake a more formal or traditional path.
Without a father figure, or someone to provide guidance, he relied on inner resources for much of adolescence, and somehow, acquired the confidence to move away, and found others who took an interest and supported him. An intense desire to do a job conscientiously, and to the utmost of his abilities on the one hand, and on the other, putting up with indifference, and vexations of all kinds seem to be a driving force of his life. Given his life’s experiences to a point, there nevertheless, seemed to always be a cleft separating his outlook, preoccupations and expectations from those of his peers, and a disquieting caution with close relationships.
The recall of dates, names, and details is amazing: the events are so firmly etched in his memory. Pride, shame, the emotional highs and lows are vividly portrayed; as well, the frustrations, misplaced authority, tolerance for pettiness and smugness or indifference. He provides instances of kindness shown to him on several occasions by people he would never meet again that stayed with him all his life. It is so intriguing that he can pinpoint incidents early in the narrative that lead to events he could not have foreseen, but which are indelibly linked.
And periodically, there is the presence of his mother, a bright star if somewhat removed, who is always there. She encouraged living one’s life however it fell out, as it did for her. It was a moral issue, a consequence of choices, circumstance, and survival.
His summation, a “weltanschauung,” has a tinge of bitterness? Contentment is elusive, and ultimately a static state of mind and his life was more dynamic and fluctuating.
It is perhaps always dangerous to view an earlier life from the perspective of maturity and to project back, but there seems to have developed “clear” water between himself now, and the events which brought him to this point.
(reviewed the day of purchase)