What sucks about being a computer technician

Fame

»Ruhm« is a »novel in nine stories« by Daniel Kehlmann from 2009. The independent narratives are interwoven. The central motif is the threat to humans from modern technology and digital communication. Fiction and reality overlap and lead to loss of identity in different ways. There is no main character in the classic sense. The nine episodes take place around the year 2000 in Germany, Latin America, Switzerland, Brazil, Asia and Africa.

1. Voices

The Computer technician Ebling likes his work. He considers the functioning of computers and electronic control units to be obscure. Only after years of hesitation did he buy a mobile phone. From then on he receives calls and messages from strangers. They all agree with the famous actorRalf Tanner to be connected.

Eblings mobile phone provider rules out the double assignment of a number. Confused and lonely next to his wife, Ebling begins to answer the calls. He takes on Tanner's identity. From now on he lives in an exciting fantasy world: He is important, has power and is desired by several women. Because of this, Ebling forgets to go to work. After two days the calls end and Ebling is reluctant to return to his reality.

2. In danger

The writerLeo Richter and the doctorElisabeth have only known each other for a short time. Elisabeth accompanies the fearful Leo on a lecture tour through Central America. Leo watches his surroundings closely. His perceptions continually lead to dreams and fiction. He senses danger everywhere.

Leo travels at the invitation of German cultural institutes. His topic is the thesis that culture and tradition are dispensable for mankind. Now you live in the age of images and the present. New technology has made the religious ideal of the eternal now a reality. Talking in front of the Germans abroad and asking them the same questions over and over again bore him deeply. That is why he cancels a planned trip to Central Asia. He suggests the PEN Club take his place Maria Rubinstein to send.

Elisabeth organizes life together and endures Leo's whining. She has for Doctors Without Borders worked. Unlike Leo, she faces reality and is familiar with real problems. She knows real danger and suffering in all its brutality. During the trip, she learns that her three closest associates have been kidnapped in Africa. The head office in Geneva relies on Elisabeth's mediation. She makes numerous phone calls that she hides from Leo.

Leo can no longer bear the boredom. Therefore he flees to Mexico with Elisabeth. He lives in constant fear of the consequences of his breach of contract. He has always wanted to visit the pyramids in the highlands. Once there, his interest fades: he is not interested in the real world, he just wants to write and invent. Until the end, Leo is fascinated by Elisabeth's cosmopolitanism and her life experience. He wants her as a template for his book character Lara Gaspard to use. Elisabeth asks him not to do this.

3. Rosalie is going to die

Rosalie is a fictional character of the writer LeoJudge. Your story is his most famous, it says in the second story (page 29). Rosalie is a retired teacher who has terminal cancer. She contacts an association in Switzerland that provides euthanasia. A Mr. Freytag reports there. He is also a fictional character, as Leo lets the reader know. The following night Rosalie asks her creator Leo Richter to let her go on, but in vain. So Rosalie prepares her trip to Switzerland. She only informs her niece about her plans Lara Gaspard.

On the way to Zurich, Rosalie is always looking for a conversation with Leo. She tries to persuade him that the story predetermined for her will end well and let her live. Leo refuses. On the way you offer a strange thin one Man with a bright red peaked cap his help. He drives Rosalie in the car for a while. Leo is irritated because he doesn't know the man. Rosalie reaches the euthanasia association. Mr. Freytag is waiting for you. But Leo Richter steps up next to him. He lets Rosalie heal and turns the old woman into a boy of twenty. She leaves the house in a hurry. After a short distance on the street, the character Rosalie ceases to exist. Leo Richter has withdrawn his attention from her.

Film adaptation of "fame"

Daniel Kehlmann's "Novel in Nine Stories" was written by the director Isabel Kleefeld filmed. The episode film started in German cinemas on March 22, 2012. The leading roles are top-class cast. So, among other things Heino Ferch as Ralf Tanner, Julia Koschitz as Elisabeth, Stefan Kurt as Leo Richter, Gabriela Maria Schmeide as Maria Rubinstein, Justus von Dohnányi as Joachim Ebling and Senta Berger as Rosalie.

The film received mixed reviews from the critics. The cinematic adaptation adheres closely to the original book. The difficulty was probably in summarizing the many different stories in 103 minutes of film. It is a challenge to pay due attention to each individual story and to give it the appropriate depth. Typing, as it may well be wanted in the book, can easily appear superficial in the film. The film adaptation of the novel got that from the German Film and Media Assessment (FBW) in Wiesbaden "Particularly valuable" rating.

4. The way out

The known actorRalf Tanner loses his identity at the age of 38: he no longer receives calls. Old friends turn away as do his loved ones. One of them slaps him in public. The scene is filmed and posted on the Internet. The few seconds destroy the fame of his greatest films. Tanner is tired of his public life anyway. He withdraws to his villa and stays away from people. He is concerned with the question of whether his own identity has worn off as a result of the acting profession.

Tanner is always looking for something Google by his name. On YouTube he finds videos of an impressive Ralf Tanner impersonator. At an event in a suburban discotheque, Tanner poses as an impersonator of himself. Its success is only moderate. The other and near-perfect Tanner impersonator also appears. He encourages Ralf to keep practicing. It took him years to become Ralf Tanner. In the meantime, he could live in his role for days.

As Matthias Wagner, Tanner rents a cheap room. Once more he returns to his villa. But he feels strange. He is shocked to hear that his best friend Mogroll has committed suicide. (Ebling advised Mogroll to do this in the first story.) Tanner can hardly remember his last film, which has just started. His new girlfriend Nora saw the film, but she doesn't connect the actor to real people.

The next time Tanner wants to go to his villa, he is sent away by his long-time valet. The imitator who is superior to him has meanwhile taken his place. When Tanner watches him, he finds that the impersonator is even the better Tanner. For himself, the role of Matthias Wagner remains. He sees it as a way out and feels liberated.

5. East

The writerLeo Richter cancels a trip to Central Asia in the second story. On his recommendation, the PEN Club sends the Crime writer Maria Rubinstein there. The inconspicuous mid-forties leads a regular life with her husband. She agrees out of curiosity. The state to which she travels is inhospitable and rigorously organized. There is a personality cult around the president. The economic conditions are bad, the state of the cities is ailing. Maria is driven through the country for days with an international delegation of press people. Uninteresting sightseeing and dull cultural programs alternate. There is always only fatty pork to eat.

Since Maria has forgotten the charger for her mobile phone, she can hardly contact her husband. On the evening before the planned trip home, Maria is separated from the group due to a missing hotel room. The next day she is not picked up from her hotel. She wanders through the city and gradually loses her identity. Desperate turns to the police. Since her visa has expired, she is treated like a criminal. In addition, her name is not on the delegation's list of participants, but that of Leo Richter. This becomes Mary's undoing. The officers put you in front of the door. Before that, they took away their money and jewelry.

Maria's mobile phone finally fails. She is completely cut off from her old life. She finds shelter with poor farmers in the steppe. Far from civilization, she tries to preserve a remnant of her identity in her consciousness.

6. Answer to the abbess

Miguel Auristos Blancos is a world famous author. He writes guides on the search for meaning, mindfulness and serenity. Thanks to his job, he can afford a luxurious life. The mail pre-sorted by his secretary contains the letter from the abbess of a Carmelite convent. She asks him the often discussed question of how God can allow people to suffer and be lonely. The letter is annoying for Blancos, but he decides to reply.

For several pages, Blancos goes on about the futility of life. The world is terrible, merciless and addicted to war. If there is a God, he is indifferent to people. Blancos is surprised by his text himself. This stands in stark contrast to his positive and hopeful books, in which he makes his readers and himself happy.

Blancos recognizes the contradictions and the mendacity of his life. As he has often done before, he now plays with a loaded pistol. He knows that his confession and suicide would shock the world. With this act he would go down in history as a famous man. It seems to remain a mind game. The end of the story is open.

7. Contributing to the debate

The first-person narrator and Mollwitz posts a post on a social network. The forum is about celebrities. Mollwitz introduces himself as an employee of a cell phone company. Among other things, he is concerned with the analysis of an error in the assignment of numbers (reference to the first story "Voices". However, he is mainly busy - also during working hours - with writing all kinds of postings for the Internet. Mollwitz, mid-thirties, fat and mostly sweating, lives with his mother, who jealously watches over every absence from home.

To his surprise, Mollwitz is sent to a congress by his boss. He should prepare a presentation for this. There is no internet on the train or in the hotel at the conference venue. Mollwitz suffers from withdrawal symptoms. In addition, he cannot deal with people and he cannot connect with his colleagues from the other mobile phone providers. Instead, he loots the Buffetts.

At the same time the writer stopsLeo Richter in the hotel. Mollwitz is a great admirer of Richter's figure Lara Gaspard. He longs to get closer to Lara. Mollwitz knows that Richter turns real-life people into characters in his books. So he seeks the proximity of Richter. However, he fails to interest the writer in himself. Richter reacts bored and dismissive.

Mollwitz is not prepared for the presentation. When he thinks he sees Richter in the audience, he loses control. The lecture turns into a disaster. When Richter escapes him again at the next meeting, Mollwitz gets drunk. Under the influence of alcohol he ravages the room, which he believes belongs to Richter.

Deeply disappointed, Mollwitz realizes that he will never meet Lara. For him there will only ever be reality - with his unloved colleagues and his mother at home. Only in forums like this can he temporarily escape reality. In the end, Mollwitz suspects that his posting lacks the bite and punch line.

8. How I lied and died

The first-person narrator is the previous one Boss von Mollwitz, department head of the telecommunications company, responsible for assigning numbers. In the meantime he has lost his job and no prospect of a new job. He tells from retrospect. The headline suggests that he is speaking from beyond, but that remains open.

The narrator lives near Hanover for professional reasons, his wife Hannah and their children in Bavaria. The encounter with the chemist Luzia kindles a passion in the narrator that he lost with Hannah. From then on he leads a double life. The two women in Hanover and Bavaria are not allowed to know anything about each other. He skillfully keeps his two roles apart. When Luzia becomes pregnant and is about to start a second family, the narrator senses that he has split into two identities.

Meanwhile, the double life brings him to the edge of his physical and mental strength. When he learns from his staff that his department was responsible for the double assignment of numbers from the first story, he remains uninvolved. At the same time, Hannah announces her visit with the children in Hanover in a text message. In a panic, the narrator makes his way to his apartment.

The same person speaks to him on the way thin man in the red cap who met Rosalie in the third story. The stranger drives him home. On the way, the narrator calls Luzia and calls her over. While the two are in bed, the doorbell rings. The man goes to the door without clothes and opens it. He is ready to show himself naked and defenseless. It remains open who is at the door.

9. In danger

The ninth story has the same title as the second. Leo Richter and his girlfriend Elisabeth this time are in an African war zone. Elisabeth is involved in a humanitarian operation there. Leo is there because he wants to get to know real life. To Elisabeth's surprise, there is no sign of Leo's usual anxiety. On the contrary: He seems to be in control of the situation and moves courageously and prudently in the crisis area.

In a destroyed village they are received by parts of a United Nations protection force. Here, too, Elisabeth is amazed at the inconsistencies. The protection force also includes a beautiful European woman who has a close relationship with Leo. She poses as Lara Gaspard in front. The woman bears a striking resemblance to Elisabeth.

Elisabeth realizes that exactly what she feared has happened: She is the character in one of Leo's stories. She then wants to leave Leo. Leo replies that this is not included in this story. Elisabeth is tired, but she is afraid of the dreams she might get into. In the end, she doesn't care. When her phone rings, she doesn't answer.


After his mega-seller "Measuring the World", Daniel Kehlmann published the narrative work "Ruhm" in 2009. The unusual novel can be assigned to the literary trend of postmodernism: the nine short stories portray characters in extraordinary life situations. These are short periods of time in their life. A historical classification is dispensed with as well as an exact drawing of the characters. Rather, Kehlmann creates types (the godlike writer, the satiated actor, the esoteric guru, the nerd, ...). They are all border crossers between reality and fiction; their identity is threatened in different ways.