“One of you”: Suter’s hymn to Bastian Schweinsteiger | NDR.de – Culture

Status: 02/02/2022 11:49 a.m

Author Martin Suter has written a novel biography about soccer star Bastian Schweinsteiger. A colorless heroic story without surprises, says reviewer Alexander Solloch.

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by Alexander Solloch

Martin Suter is not necessarily a top athlete, but he does have sporting ambitions: the bestselling author from Switzerland aims to excel at least once in every literary genre. Now he has made the genre “novel biography”. Using the example of a life that is far from finished, but possibly at least dazzling.

There is one thing that good friends can do in life, Franz Beckenbauer once sang: “to be there for one another”. Whether this care always leads to the most gratifying results – that is of course a completely different question. How did the surprising Suter/Schweinsteiger pairing come about? The ex-soccer player replies: “One day a very good friend of mine said: If someone should write a book about you, then there’s really only Martin Suter. But he certainly won’t do it. Then I – like me so am – said: ‘Then let’s just ask him!’ It’s really like a gift for me, and of course I’m very grateful for that.”

“One of you”: A gift for Bastian “Basti” Schweinsteiger

However, it is not necessary, and probably not at all desirable, for the protagonist of a book to feel gifted by the author. Shouldn’t he rather feel caught and seen through? Unfortunately, Suter does not give this experience to his new friend Schweinsteiger – who is only called “Basti” in the book.

There isn’t much for the reader and you notice that on the first 30 pages and you don’t lose this impression on the following 350 pages. This is an extremely unstimulating book: dramaturgically conventional, content hardly ever surprising, linguistically simple and colorless like a primary school report card.

“Basti used the year to play. He quickly made great progress in skiing and was on the podium at the award ceremony. […] He also made a name for himself in football. As the youngest and smallest of his team, he quickly developed into an established midfielder and repeatedly prepared fantastic scoring chances and goals for the older players. He learned to play tennis with Tobi and made progress in ice hockey.”
Excerpt from “One of you: Bastian Schweinsteiger”

It’s a single progress story. A young man, kissed by talent, seemingly effortlessly goes his own way. Resistance is sat out carefree. One can like this man very much – but does one also have to read his story, a story without pitfalls?

Martin Suter slams the door

Here and there the door to something worth telling opens, only Suter always slams it shut mercilessly. For example, “Basti” doesn’t get along with his coach Felix Magath. So Suter retells everything that you have read a thousand times in “Kicker” or in “11 Freunde”: how quirky this Magath is, how unapproachable, a grinder on top of that, everything is well known. But how “Basti” worked successfully with him for 2.5 years, how Magath himself looks at the footballer today, whom he perhaps saw as a spoiled wannabe star at the time (possibly with good reasons) – we don’t find out.

That’s the principle of this book anyway: Everything that could be interesting isn’t in it, because Suter refuses to take a different perspective than that of his hero and because he seems to be scared to death of the concrete.

Suter doesn’t feel football

Once “Basti” was annoyed by a tabloid journalist who called him “boss”. What follows is so nerve-wrackingly exciting that it is best read under the protection of a blanket pulled up to the tip of your nose:

Like a boss, Basti got even with the journalist at his press conference. He didn’t let him speak and slapped him the way he had slapped him. ‘I’ve had enough!’ he told him. And: ‘I won’t let such a pisser text me.’
Excerpt from “One of you: Bastian Schweinsteiger”

Even without factual mistakes, which a thorough editor would have liked to have edited out, and apart from all the literary and dramaturgical weaknesses, it can be said that Suter simply doesn’t have the feeling for football. He looks at him like a Martian: interested, friendly and completely clueless. After all, he intuitively approaches football today: his book is as boring as the title fight in the Bundesliga.

additional Information

A woman and two men look at the selection of books on shelves full of books and on stacks - picture at the Frankfurt Book Fair © imago/Rupert Oberhäuser Photo: Rupert Oberhäuser

Lots of exciting books coming out this year. For example by Karl Ove Knausgård, Yasmina Reza, Orhan Pamuk and Fatma Aydemir. more

One of you: Bastian Schweinsteiger

by Martin Suter

Page number:
384 pages
Release date:
January 26, 2022
Order number:

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NDR Culture | New Books | 01/26/2022 | 12:40 p.m

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