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Likely Stories - Every Man For Himself and God Against All

Outside of narrative fiction I'm rather partial to memoirs. In recent years I've vicariously lived amongst rock stars, performing artists, and iconic comedians. Today I want to talk about the strangest, and at times, the most frustrating memoir I've ever read.

Every Man for Himself and God Against All by Werner Herzog is a chaotic swirl of memory. A cut and paste catalogue of unique impressions. An odyssey of experiences that at times seem totally unhinged and in some instance...absolutely unbelievable.

As the only director to have made a feature film on every continent, Herzog has been to places we can only imagine, both literally and figuratively. In the memoir he touches upon his impoverished childhood, his familial relationships, and at one point his wives, that's right, wives, plural, are collectively lumped into a chapter of their very own. But considering Herzog has, and I quote, "A deep aversion to too much introspection." He keeps the reader close enough to gain some insight, but consistently maintains his comfort level.

From the jungles of Peru to active volcanoes in Iceland, Herzog ricochets laterally across his life, career, and topics that capture his interest. It's a messy zig-zag journey that includes a varied cast of characters. From mountaineers; mathematicians, a set of identical twins who lived completely in sync with one another, fellow filmmakers and of course his best fiend, the volatile actor Klaus Kinski. The players in the story of Herzog's life are as distinct as his thick Bavarian accent, but it's the head scratching experiences which make for the most exhilarating, occasionally exhausting, read.

Film shoots rife with financial disasters, aeroplance crashes, emergency amputations and hostile encounters with indigenous tribes. Breaking into NASA facilities. Absconding to Mexico and becoming a rodeo clown. Falling forty feet as part of an elaborate opera performance.

And then there's the endeavors which never came to light. A film with Mike Tyson about Kings of the early middle ages. Or a fourteen minute rendition of Hamlet starring a cast of livestock auctioneers. It might sound like I'm playing a game of mad libs by myself right now, but all of these strands are a genuine part of the eccentric tapestry that is 'Every Man for Himself and God Against All."

Are all or indeed any of these moments forged from reality? Who knows? Over the years Herzog has earned himself a reputation as a philosopher of sorts, a disruptor, a maverick, and more significantly in this instance, an unreliable narrator. But whether his tangled memoir is steeped in fact or it's Herzog's own ecstatic truth, there's no denying that's it's one wild ride through space and time.

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After emigrating from Northern England in 2019, Malcolm joined the KWBU team in March of 2023. His experience in podcast production, audio, and video editing have provided a solid base to begin life as an operations assistant and afternoon host. Malcolm is an infinitely curious soul; avid writer, lover of film and music, ardent fan of Liverpool FC, husband to the incredibly patient Robyn, and food giver to Kiki, his fluffy feline overlord.