52 Book Challenge Update and Karl May Museum!

Another week, another book... kind of, and a trip to the museum of a local hero

              Week three saw me hit a bit of a snag with my 52 books in a year challenge. The Orphan Master’s Son was both hard to read and looooong. 584 pages to be exact, or that’s how I remember it and, in North Korea, anyone can change their reality it seems. Whilst there were parts of this book I really enjoyed (Jun Do in Japan, in the US, in prison), there were also large sections where my imagination wandered no matter how eloquent and poignant the scenes I was reading. An epic that could have been shortened by about 200 pages. The similes and metaphors were delightful at times but by the end of the second week of reading it, I just wanted to stop and give up. But Dear Citizens! the challenge must be completed! I couldn’t give it up, not for all the peaches in the peninsula.
            Anyway, as you can see it probably had a bigger impact on me than I care to credit it, but I’d only give the OMS a 3/5. I would recommend it to those who like their fiction heavy on the poetry and abstract side, not so much if you like to read to be entertained. But yeah, it took me two weeks to finish meaning I’m a little behind on the Challenge, so I rather cleverly (sneakily) chose a couple of books I knew that I could finish off quickly. One, Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton, the second, the Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway. Both chosen for their relative ease to read. The Old Man and the Sea is only about 120 pages long, which shouldn’t take too long to read, and is quoted as being a ‘modern classic’, or at least it was at the time. Dragon Teeth on the other hand is probably the exact kind of book I would like; full of adventure, intrigue, and of course… dinosaurs.
            Wish me luck, Dear Citizens!

Karl May Museum

Last week also saw me visit a museum dedicated to an author who was also an early fraudster and conman in his life. He made quite the career turn. He’s famous mostly for his work as an author of the wild west and the ‘Indians’ as they’re called in his books, especially a character named Winnetou. Interestingly, the books were not banned during the Nazi period despite showing people of colour in a fond light and have went on to sell over 200 million copies! If only I could sell one percent of that amount.
            The museum is in Radebeul, within the house that he bought, wrote and lived in and you’re welcome to wander around the gardens and visit the two different sections of the grounds. One, at the rear, is the native American hut –

“The Villa Bärenfett (Bears Fat) log cabin, over 90 years old, houses a collection on the cultural and historical living environments of the indigenous population of North America that is unique in Europe. Karl May’s widow Klara had it built as an illustration of May’s work. The “North American Indians” permanent exhibition includes ethnological objects from the 18th to 20th century, which reflects the great diversity of Indian cultures.” – https://www.karl-may-museum.de/en/exhibitions/north-american-indians/

            It’s quite something to see the breadth of life-like animal skins hanging from the walls and it would be easy for me to wag a finger and proclaim the despicable act of killing innocent animals and then hanging them on a person’s wall, but during that time most of these animals weren’t so endangered. The history of the native American people themselves is in the other half of the museum and there’s very little to see of May’s work or life in the Bear Fat cabin, but more of what inspired him as a writer, which is worth the entrance fee on its own. The clothes, way of life, the different housing between tribes (not all stayed in tipis and wigwams), the methods of hunting, the rituals; it’s all fascinating. I found myself drawn to the modern music of native Americans and have attached a couple of the songs I shazammed below. The tapestry of the clothing and elements of the native cultures interlaced with modern sounds I find quite enjoyable. Plus, the dancing and clothing looks beautiful. If you’re into shuffling as a dance form, you should probably thank the indigenous folk of North America.
            The second part of the museum is more about May’s life and sadly most of it was in German. There was a lot I could understand but I didn’t have the time or energy to read every bit of information. It was interesting to see where the man worked – surrounded again by tiger and bear skins… and it looked about as audacious as you would expect of a man writing about the wild west and plains troubles.

In all, it’s well worth a visit if you’re up for a museum that is a bit different to the usual and it’s nice to learn more about a man who is well-revered in the Saxony (and national) area. There are a number of Karl May clubs in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and there used to be a number of native American clubs that sprung up because his works opened the door for German speakers to the struggles of the North American peoples, although I’m not sure how many are still going today. There’s a Karl May festival in Radebeul every year and we fully intend on going, if only to see the traditional dancing of certain tribes.

Karl May Fest – http://www.karl-may-fest.de/

Karl May Museum – https://www.karl-may-museum.de
            Open 10am – 5pm during winter months, until 7pm during summer.
            9 Euros for adults, 8 for students.

Music from Karl May museum that I shazammed –

Supaman – Why?


A Tribe Called Red Ft. Black Bear – Stadium Pow Wow


DJ Shub – Indomitable ft. Northern Cree Singers


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