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At that time, I was rather attracted by South American literature. Those were the years when Gabriel Garcia Marquez became world-famous; when Isabel Allende published her 'Casa de los espíritus'; when I discovered Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Luis Borges, and many others. Then, I had my coming-out, I met Franck, and he insisted I read 'The Lost Language of Cranes' by David Leavitt.
A literary revelation, for me, and in more than one sense. First, I discovered there was that thing people now call 'gay literature'. All I had stumbled upon so far were cautious, discreet hints and suggestions in German literary highlights dating back to the early 20th century like 'The Confusions of Young Törless' or 'Death In Venise'. Leavitt's novel opened a whole new area to me. I discovered there were books and stories that not only spoke directly to me but more or less about me, about a very important part of who and what I was.
I became a fan of the 'Men On Men' series, almost yearly compilations of gay short stories. I read all the rest of Leavitt's literary production. I read Armistead Maupin's six 'Tales of the City'. More than once, I have to admit; books had already become like my best friends. I've read 'The Lord of the Rings' at least ten times; the same is true for the 'Narnia' books, B.E. Ellis' 'Glamorama', Felice Picano's 'Like People in History', the three hilarious Joe Keenan-novels and Edmund White's 'Farewell Symphony'.
Anyway. Back to Leavitt. Besides being the first openly gay novel I read, this book was very well written, the language young and direct yet with real literary merits. I discovered that the contemporary literary production in English was rich and interesting and worth being looked into. I discovered at the same time how much I loved the English language, so simple and straightforward on the surface, but containing so many layers and hues and meanings.
It's a real love that hasn't left me ever since. I've read so many English and American books that it seems to me as natural as reading something in German, which is after all my mother tongue. This is a sensation I've never succeeded in feeling with works written in French, although I speak it fluently and without a trace of an accent, people say. Why, I even dream in French most of the time. My colleagues ask me when they have a doubt about French grammar or spelling. I love the French language. I've written my other novel first in German, then in French.
So, yes, it would be natural, logical for me to write in French or German. Yet, I write in English. And, to be honest, I don't know why. I really don't. When I suddenly had the idea to write and publish something new, something speaking of me and my present and past, the first sentences formed in my mind, as if by magic, in English. You remember? Episode 1, 'this morning while riding the Paris métro…' These were the first words that my brain spat out, and they were in English.
And I'm very glad about that. I have noticed that I can share my writing with much more people. I have realized that I can maintain the necessary, essential distance to the main object of my novel – me – precisely because I have to really look twice at how I want to say things. I have to structure my thoughts. I have to chisel my sentences. I have to search for the right words. And I love it.
So, Heddi and all you others who read me, I hope I have answered some of your questions. If no, please accept my apologies. I can't do better, I'm afraid.