The story is about deviant sexual behavior in a backdrop of growing brutality. As a Jewish reader, I felt bunched up with the other "undesirables" of the Nazis. Although some of the main characters were Jewish, there was nothing about their Judaism which separated them from the others who were also being persecuted.
The tie between the Nazis and sex gave some meaning to the madness: " . . . [the Nazi Party], too, promised a vibrant and physical future, focusing on symbols, images, and visions, discarding reality for a communal act of arousal, erection, ejaculation. If history could be compared to an act of sex, then the history of Nazi Germany would surely resemble an act of angry selfish masturbation."
Many of the violent scenes unfolded in such a way that I didn't comprehend what was happening until after it occurred. It was almost like being numb, being in shock during the trauma and only realizing the repercussions afterwards: very effective and scary.
Some of the story described the behavior of transvestites. This passage summed it up for me: "It was all a matter of control; males in female clothing destroyed the mask of male pretense, the societal image of masculinity as assuredness, as dominance, as control, and allowed the privilege of sensitivity, of gentleness, of playfulness, of femininity." We all would have been better off if the Nazis wore dresses.
I think the writer is amazing, each sentence and paragraph crafted. He writes great structures throughout the book and most of them were tight thoughts; everything made sense in complex structures. The historical backdrop was realistic and the description of the city lively.
Arnie, Vegan chemist