The message you get by reading the novel ‘The Flavor of Lead’ by Māris Bērziņš is that nobody was born a hero, however most ordinary people can become one.
An apprentice at the windmill in Torņakalns, Matiss Birkens’ life is suddenly turn upside-down. A lad who mostly spends his days reading books, being quite happy with his earnings renovating flats, seeking a sweetheart to devote himself to, gets drawn into the centre of a whirlpool of events. He is forced to look at himself with entirely different eyes: ‘I find it funny how suddenly two such immature beings as me and Rudis have become such altruistic humanitarians; makes my eyes watery right there. I am not surprised about Kolya, however me and Rudis, really? Unbelieavable! But perhaps we are not these selfless beings I say we are? My weakness is not being able to refuse a fried’s request. Rudis is a player since I have known him as a kid. He himself once said: when you do something that is forbidden, you become overwhelmed with the euphoria and the pleasant thrill, as if you were doing a crazy trick. If you make it through — praise and glory awaits you, if not — you land with your face down in the mud, or worse – be dead and gone.”
The book was published in the series ‘We. Latvia. XX Century.’ within the framework of the SCCF’s target programme ‘National Identity’.