The Book Bench: ‘Let’s all Move to Berlin’

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  05.04.09 | 3:01 PM ET

Photo by wit via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’ve had a longtime fascination with the Parisian expat writers of the 1920s. Books like “A Moveable Feast” or “That Summer in Paris” never fail to make me wish I was sitting in a Left Bank cafe, making a cup of coffee last for hours while I wrestle with a short story or pause to chat with other struggling writers who’ve wandered by.

Of course, Paris is hardly the place for impoverished creative types anymore, but—say the New Yorker’s Book Bench bloggers—there’s a viable European alternative if I ever decide to attempt a modern-day recreation of my Hemingway daydreams: Berlin.

Bookslut‘s Jessa Crispin is headed to the German capital in July, and Book Bencher Willing Davidson figures he spots a trend. He writes: “You often hear that the creative class just talks and talks, and never does anything, but its reaction to the vexing dilemma of German depopulation has been concise and effective. It’s called: Let’s all move to Berlin… It’s cheap, everyone speaks English, there’s mass unemployment, and thus no social pressure to work, and everyone eats doner kebab, which was invented there. It’s the European dream for young Americans in the age of reduced expectations.”

I’m sensing some sarcasm here, but there’s truth mixed in as well. Cheap rent and doner kebab? Sounds like the building blocks of an expat literary renaissance. Who’s with me?

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

4 Comments for The Book Bench: ‘Let’s all Move to Berlin’

Nowooski 05.04.09 | 3:25 PM ET

Berlin is great, but moving there would mean you’d have to deal with the European double whammy of no free refills/no free water and inadequate air-conditioning. Unclear if it is worth it.

After all, Detroit has cheap rent (and cheap houses), free refills, air conditioning, mass unemployment and a collection of ruins to rival Rome. Plus you don’t have to worry about a visa.

Wojcik 05.04.09 | 9:19 PM ET

But who cares about the whole free refills/ free water anyway. People who plan to move the Berlin, or Germany in general should realize they ARE moving to another country, its not all going to be the same or perfect as their home. Or maybe they are looking to escape the US’s problems and “Detroit” isn’t an answer.

I’m from Maryland, IF I were to move anywhere in the US it would be to Washington State, not necessarily Seattle.  But now after reading about many countries beside my own, I’ve decided on two; Germany or Japan. Both Beautiful and Unique in the own ways, food, fashion and culture.

Maitresse 05.05.09 | 2:10 AM ET

Paris is still Paris. Berlin is lovely, but no substitute. 05.07.09 | 12:41 PM ET

Well, I’d love to visit Berlin.  I didn’t realize it was a “cheap” city or is it?  I wouldn’t mind living abroad for a few months, perhaps 6-months to 1-year.  It would be good to experience a different city, language, and culture.  It’s great way to decompress.

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