Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee delivers with humor the story of a clique of 15 year old boys who have the same problems with school, girls and family faced by their peers throughout the "developed" world. What distinguishes this story is that the boys live in East Berlin around 1980. So, in addition to the usual problems of teenagers, they must deal with teachers and school administrators who not only try to keep a lid on the daily madness of the kids, but also try to produce good communists or, failing that, completely obedient and subservient citizens of a state whose primary danger was constituted by its own citizenry. Although there was the occasional saber rattling (primarily for consumption by the Kremlin and the East German people), the only shooting done by the East German security apparatus was at its own people. I lived in (West) Germany at this time, and I recall reading about such killings in the Todesstreifen (death strip) between East and West Germany every month or so. But there are no killings in this novel; that would disturb the deliberately light (and marketable) mood Brussig maintains.(*) Even the encounters with the neighborhood wardens and the state police, Stasi , have no real sense of threat. Of course, threat doesn't sell, unless it comes in the form of a vampire, or werewolf, or witch, or serial killer - why, again, do these sell? OK, back to the threats which don't sell... There aren't any in this book. Hmmmm, that must be clear now. Brussig won't make it into my little pantheon of German stylists with his simple, paratactic sentences and his omniscient narrator, but I did enjoy the occasional use of Ossi colloquialisms.(**) And he did make me laugh, even though there was no subtlety to the humor. Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee is a light and quick read, but I have my eyes on some more serious novelizations of East German life in its sunset years.(*) He co-wrote the screenplay for a movie of the same name, which had some success (I haven't seen it), and he later wrote this book, claiming that he had some ideas he wasn't able to wedge into the movie. I shall take him at his word...(**) By the way, we have all groaned at reviews in English which complain that there are too many big words and complicated sentences in a book, or that the author is pretentious (I seriously suspect the latter is believed to be a less shameful way to say the former). The counterpart in German is "verschachtelte Sätze" (sentences involving multiple dependent and independent clauses and some uniquely German constructions which require some active deciphering), the great boogeyman for the amateur reader - you won't find any complaints about these in the reviews for this book!