I think anyone, upon finding a book with this cover, would feel that it was their duty as an American to drop everything, shove old ladies out of the way, race up to the cash register, and buy this book. For god’s sake, it’s by the author of Sea Trial!!!!!!!!!!!
Just kidding – I don’t know what Sea Trial is. It’s really the meat cleaver and the tasteful arrangement of the blood spatters that sold me, and the fact that it is called Oktoberfest which means that it is a slasher that happens in Germany when everyone is drunk and gassy. The back cover copy is particularly breathless:
“This was no ordinary Oktoberfest. The 16-day Munich celebration was usually a time of hedonistic abandon and sexual revelry. But this year was different. This year there was a deranged killer on the loose, hacking his victims to death with a meat cleaver. Fear and terror were spreading like wildfire through the city when Police Inspector Bauer tackled the case. As he followed the murderer’s bloody trail, Bauer developed a very bizarre theory, one he had to pursue…even if it took him to Paris, to Israel…AND TO HELL.”
I like to imagine his travel agent:
“We have a beautiful vacation package for you, with stops in Paris, Israel, and Hell.”
“Oh…do I have to stop in Israel? I’d rather do a few extra days in Hell.”
“Well, let me see…mm…no, sorry. If you skip Israel we’ll have to route you through Athens and you’ll have an 11-hour layover.”
You know how when you first moved to a big city and you figured out that drug dealers on the street would actually sell you drugs? And how exciting that was? And then you got home and snorted all the drugs and realized it was baby laxative and had to stay on the toilet for a week? That’s what the experience of reading Oktoberfest is like. Nowhere on that jacket copy does it suggest that this is actually not a book about a sex-crazed maniac chopping people up at Oktoberfest, and actually a book about a traumatized Holocaust survivor sleeping in abandoned buildings while international law enforcement tries to figure out the moral calculus of Germany’s war reparations. How’s that for a cold shower?
Written in an echt-literary style, the book starts with a Holocaust survivor escaping from a mental institution, killing three or four people he stumbles across in Munich because they look like Goering and Hitler, blowing up a public shower because it reminds him of the showers in Auschwitz, then getting arrested and sent to Israel. It’s not a bad book, but it’s just resolutely downbeat and grim, and not at all what I wanted to find behind that cover. At least it does actually take place during Oktoberfest, and there actually an actual bloody cleaver.
As depressing, clammy, and disappointing as putting on a pair of cold, wet pants, Oktoberfest was written by Audrey Rose and The Entity author, Frank De Felitta. He also wrote Sea Trial, which has been rumored to be the basis of an upcoming film starring John Travolta and Nic Cage. Not surprisingly, no one is planning to make a movie out of Oktoberfest, but that’s okay. You can create your very own immersive, 3-D version of the book by sitting in a room with no windows while leafing through a coffee table book of Holocaust photos, while listening to oompah music and drinking a warm beer.