Frederick Reuss Mohr

ISBN 13: 9781932961171

Mohr

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When a solitary man stumbles upon a cache of photographs, sometimes and only sometimes he can sense the lives of the people in them. Sometimes he can find in their faces, and in the way they hold themselves or the way they perform before the camera, the light trace of their story.

Following just that path, acclaimed novelist Frederick Reuss has created a love story of historic proportions. Mohr: A Novel is about a man and wife whose life together is marked irreparably by a deeply troubled and world-testing era.

With the sort of enthralling narrative step that always marks his work, Reuss allows their story to rise from a cache of photographs he uncovered in Germany photographs from the 1920s and ’30s of the exiled Jewish playwright and novelist Max Mohr; Käthe, the beautiful wife he left behind; and Eva, their daughter, who would live through it all but would never really understand what had happened.

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About the Author:

Frederick Reuss is the acclaimed author of Horace Afoot, Henry of Atlantic City,

and The Wasties. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and two daughters.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

“To Japan?” Agnes stares at the ticket in her hand. Shanghai-Nagasaki-Shanghai.

“With you?”

“Separate berths, of course.”

“I can’t go to Japan with you!”

“Why not?” Mohr struggles to maintain an impish cheer. “To Fujiyama.”

She shakes her head.

“It’s a beautiful mountain. Come with me. I want to go to the top.”

They are standing at the front entrance of the hospital. He worked late in order to

leave with her when her shift ended. She presses the envelope into his hand, looking

directly into his eyes. “No. I’m sorry.”

“At least take some time and think about it.”

Agnes shakes her head. “I can’t.”

Mohr stands there awkwardly. The silence between them gives way to the clamor

of traffic. The Sikh traffic policeman at the intersection blows his whistle. A rickshaw

puller stomps past, cursing, barely able to control the momentum of his fat passenger.

Mohr smiles; Agnes doesn’t. Wong pulls up to the curb. “I simply mean as a friend,”

he says. “That’s all.”

“What makes you think I am your friend?”

Mohr flushes. “What makes you think you are not?” He gets into the car and pulls

the door shut. Agnes is already walking away as he rolls down the window. Once again,

he feels foolish, empty-headed, tangled up in things, his powers gone. He used to think

that life here would improve him, that he would grow, and in growing that Käthe and

Eva would be inspired, and when they were at last reunited they would all grow together

again, and—Germany be damned—their new life here would be richer and he would

rejoin the human race, not as a refugee and a has-been but as a free and independent

man. Instead, all he feels is lost, without a compass; all he wants is to believe that things

could not have turned out other than the way they have, that it’s not his fault he’s stuck

here, all alone. What happened? Once upon a time he expected only good of himself.

He believed in the purity of his heart and all his intentions. But something happened.

He was mistaken. No good has come out of anything he has done. Nothing good at all.

On the way home the car gets caught in a parade along Avenue Edouard VII—bluejacketed

sailors and soldiers marching down the avenue bearing banners, drums and horns

echoing. His thoughts flitter. Rent, driver, bills, refrigerator, food, cigarettes. Käthe.

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