TIME OF USEFUL CONSCIOUSNESS by Jennifer Ott

consciousnessAn OK read, probably more because of the fact I just didn’t seem to be in the mood for it, than for any other reason.  Or maybe because it reminded me of a film with Robin Wright Penn and Sean Penn, Loved,  in which she mopes around being beautifully moody and which I disliked intensely.

This book is set in Stuttgart, Germany, right after World War II, when the Marshall Plan was put into effect and food and consumer shortages were endemic.  The Germans, naturally, did what they could to feed themselves, and one of the things they did was create a large black market.

This is the story of a young woman whose brother was involved in the black market, piloting planes bringing in clandestine goods, and she became involved as well after she learns to fly, which all led to her killing a man.

She is taken to prison and is interrogated by an American officer who has been having an affair with her promiscuous mother.  The dilemma is whether to save her own skin by ratting out the others.

I don’t know exactly what about it all annoyed me so much, but it was one of those books I struggled through, mainly because I had read almost 60% of it waiting for it not to annoy me, and figured I should at least finish it.

One thing I did like, though, is the title.  Did you know that the phrase ‘time of useful consciousness’ refers to the amount of time an individual is able to perform flying duties efficiently in an environment of inadequate oxygen supply?  It is the period of time from the interruption of the oxygen supply or exposure to an oxygen-poor environment to the time when useful function is lost, and the individual is no longer capable of taking proper corrective and protective action.  If you read the book  you will see how this applies.

The other thing I liked was the look at daily life in Germany immediately after the war.  I was born during the war, and am used to thinking of the German people as ‘the enemy’, but I lose sight of the fact that the average German citizen was just trying to live their everyday lives, same as us.

Stuttgart, 1945

Stuttgart, 1945

 

 

 

 

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