Interview: Lisa Eckhart: ‘I live now more shamelessly than ever before’

The feisty cabaret artist and bestselling author is back with a new novel. A conversation about sex and serial killers, their masters and morals.

Mrs. Eckhart, you yourself describe your second novel as ‘literature high below the belt’. In fact, in “Boum,” which tells the story of a still very young Austrian Alois when she moves to Paris, including her transformation into a prostitute, there is a lot of intercourse in many different ways. why? What is interesting about sex to you?

Lisa Eckhart: I find it intriguing how I went from my first novel, “Omama”, which was a very storied novel, to a reproductive work – in the Freudian hierarchy, this is a huge step forward.

So what does that mean for the next novel?

Eckhart: I develop periodically. So I guess I’ll go back to the stool. I’ve always been under the impression that we Austrians prefer fecal humor and Germans prefer sexual humor – so if you jump back and forth between them, there’s definitely something for everyone.

But “Omama” was also a bestseller in Germany – and for you, the fulfillment of your dream was in your book. So you are free to write whatever you want after all. Why is it funny, flashy, hideous again?

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Eckhart: You write to your own taste. But with Boom, she wrote much less as a nightclub artist. Where in “Omama” the compulsion to write lines had to be tamed, I now allow myself the luxury of creating plot and characters that are more than mere molds. And I wrote respectfully for the second part, because as we all know, some authors, whose first one was a bestseller, would rather keep their hands of the sequel. The second part of Faust and the New Testament bear witness to this.

But humor is what Lisa Eckhart can’t do without?

Eckhart: I don’t see any other genre that might appeal to me, either as a writer or as a reader. I don’t open covers of work without humor.

There are numerous references to other works in the new book, “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo In describing poverty, one thinks of Bertolt Brecht’s “Threepence Opera” in your character as a beggar king, one of your characters is called Subotics in reference to Vernon Werner’s subtext of Verne Despentes … Festival Literary little references to beloved authors?

Eckhart: Certainly more than I realize. I often refer to authors I don’t know. My knowledge of literature ends with Brecht at last. I haven’t looked at anything contemporary, so I’ll first let the history of literature prescribe whether it will still be around a hundred years later, and then perhaps I’ll read it. Anyway, your reading list is tattooed on your skin. It’s dripping through your pores and dripping onto the parchment in front of you, you can’t defend yourself against that.

Is there something for you that tops the mix of humor and fine literature?

Eckhart: I don’t believe in that. Because if I found something perfect, I wouldn’t assume I picked up my pen. I wouldn’t write after someone. So I think there is still an empty space. What most amuses me is certainly a bit of French like the Marquis de Sade or the newer, terrifying and easy-going Russians like Gogol, which I read with great pleasure. Those are the clues. But of course you have to break the neck of your masters when you think of writing something yourself, otherwise you will constantly be ashamed – and under the great masters it is written very coldly.

Lisa Eckhart is not undisputed.

Photo: Peter W. Chernisch for Marquis Magazine

Your book does not stop at fantastic fairy tales.

Eckhart: In the end, these brakes don’t work anyway. And he might also need a spark of magic or surrealism to give – what a shocking word – an “original” picture of Paris, for example. It is in fact surreal and charming, it is not a cliché or a fantasy. It is worth it.

Without wanting to downplay the actual characters: Paris is the most lively person in the book.

Eckhart: I did it very one-sidedly. My original story focused only on the protagonist, but then Paris crept into this book behind my back and reclaimed its place.

It has turned into a declaration of love.

Eckhart: Yes, because this city drove me crazy. Because there is not enough of her. Not only beautiful and not graceful, but also not wretched and ugly enough. This is great for a book, of course, but it’s very hard to live with.

You yourself lived there for four years. Did you write there at the time?

Eckhart: No, not for the public anyway. My writing at the time was just love letters — and yes, there were plenty of them, I admit. I can’t remember a day when I wasn’t deeply and of course unhappy with Paris.

But you’re not there for love like your Aloisia is, are you? instead of?

Eckhart: To study the Russian language there. This seems ridiculous to some, as it seemed to the French at the time. For me at the time, it was the most logical thing I could do. Because I really wanted to be able to speak all the languages ​​of the allies in case they came back. I already knew English and so I killed two birds with one stone, a Frenchman in the street, and a Russian at university. I could study French in Moscow, but it was very cold there.

The second part of your novel recounts the case of a serial killer dedicated to depicting violence. This, too, tends to be grotesque with a great aftertaste. why?

Eckhart: As a parody of a phenomenon I don’t understand: it seems like half of Netflix is ​​now made up of serial killer documentaries. While everyone is alarmed by a hundred minute assaults a day, it does not cease to amaze me that people can witness the deadliest massacre en masse in the evening—without causing any harm or feeling overwhelmed, thin people take it no offense. . But serial killers are of course characters too, they fit perfectly with this time, very different from the last century, mass murder. Individual offenders, who individually select their victims – this is of course someone with whom young entrepreneurs and neo-liberals can identify a lot.

Speaking of petty assaults: At the time of Amama’s release, such attacks against you were gathering in a powerful wave, starting with the accusation that you were using anti-Semitic clichés on a cabaret show. Have you been on the radar constantly since then?

Eckhart: exactly the contrary. It seems to me that I am moving off any radar. The worn-out sentence, here it is: “Once you ruin the reputation…” Anyway, I live now more shamelessly than ever. Clearly, critics no longer enjoy working on me, because they’ve blown all their powder off in a short summer. But they really took everything, even to the point of hating humans – now, unfortunately, there is nothing left. And if I’m still standing there now, they can probably just try it out with silver bullets.

She staged like a pop star, in a way Lady Gaga, but she’s still Lisa Eckhart, a cabaret artist and author.

Photo: Peter W. Chernisch for Marquis Magazine

Why are you still standing?

Eckhart: I’ve been able to prove myself resilient to all of this hostilities, being somewhat immune to morals because I’ve never used them myself. This was a nice sentence from Bernd Stegmann: “He who rises through morals will fall in morals.” And since I’ve never climbed on her shoulder, you can’t get me off the base with her help either.

However, there is plenty of material for more subtle assaults in the book. One of your characters talks about niggers, a topless feminist demonstration came out at a car show, and the mayor proudly says postcolonial students celebrated him for turning the penis-like globe so that the Southern Hemisphere is now on top. …is not this written with the joy of new provocations?

Eckhart: No. Because if you want to annoy these people, you don’t do it with a novel – they don’t have that interest. I’m going to have to separate the tweet or something. They search for their material in the “social networks”, which I have always been out of. So these faces only serve the story and the characters guilty of all the evil that revolves around the people there. It would be unrealistic, and really surreal, if they weren’t guilty of some racism and sexism.

What is the relationship between your story, which often tends to be grotesque, and reality?

Eckhart: I’m not actually an expert. I’m very withdrawn for that. I am not polluted by the so-called real world. Perhaps that makes me better at it than someone who constantly engages in social field studies. In general, there is a lot of research in the literature. People think that they should not write about a topic unless they have tried it themselves. It should be the second method. Experience lose writing. In addition, my job as a writer is to imagine, not to annoy people with more reality, but to please them with inventions made of the mind. Or with a form of elevated reality transcendent to art. A lot of my artwork is being sold these days, and it’s actually just old reports.

And what is the relationship between cabaret artist and writer Lisa Eckhart?

Eckhart: A relationship with a novel is like a marriage: you know that work awaits you every morning when you are sitting at your desk. Nice perseverance. On the other hand, it is also important to develop small affairs. Quick, short lines and numbers that you enjoy and forget about the next day. I don’t want to miss either. Great love will fall apart quickly

the book Lisa Eckhart: Boom. Zsolnay Verlag, 365 pages, €25 (published August 22)

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