A study of the undercurrents of xenophobia in a small US town in 1944 during the Second World War, The German depicts a serial killer stalking young boys. The novel alternates between the perspectives of Sheriff Tom Rabbit, 12-year-old Tim Randall and the German. The queer titular character is either an officer who fled the Great War after surviving being shot and half-buried or a deluded madman who can handle himself in tight situations. Unashamed and frank about his lust for men, Ernst Lang decries the American mentality of secrecy and being closeted.
“As he developed, I found him just fascinating,” Thomas says. “Basically what he was looking at was the ability to understand violence and hostility and see it for what it is and how it affects our culture but not be a part of it. You know, to at some point say, ‘Yes, we’re brutes, but I’m not going to be.'”
The work reflects Thomas’s desire to depict objectification, whether it’s Nazis objectifying their enemies, bullies their victims or serial killers their targets. When asked what scares the hell out of Lee Thomas, he answers quickly.
“Oh, people. We’re capable of so much very, very good stuff and we’re aware of all this – but the good stuff and all that is hard; the bad stuff’s easy. Unfortunately, we’re a lazy species. We go for the easy. We have so many ways to justify doing that to each other that it’s just a progression from a minor slight to something much more major. Just look at our politicians; it’s insane.”