When I heard that Josef Fritzl had written an autobiography from his high security prison in Austria, I was desperate to read it.
But could I remember enough of my high school German lessons to decipher the rantings, musings - and revelations? - of the man who imprisoned one of his daughters in a home-made dungeon, raped her an estimated 3,000 times and forced her to bear seven of his children, one of whom died and he incinerated in a log burner?
Thankfully, I didn't have to rack my brains too much. Earlier this month an English translation of the book was released, meaning my German language skills remain forever frozen at being able to ask for a glass of water, pointing out a horse in a field and saying 'that is true' or 'that is false'.
It has been 24 years since I last had a formal German lesson - coincidentally the same amount of time that Elisabeth Fritzl languished in a stinking sex bunker beneath the family home, delivering seven babies alone and with no medical assistance or pain relief, in the dark, unventilated space. Her birthing suite kitted out with an old book about pregnancy and a pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cord.
The Abysses of Josef F (German title, Die Abgruende des Josef F) is partly written by his current lawyer Astrid Wagner, with extracts of conversations they've had in the prison visiting room and segments of a 126-page memoir written by Fritzl himself in prison.
It states in the book that any identifying references to his victims/family/mistresses/crimes have been removed, but that doesn't mean that there's not still a lot of shocking content in this book... Firstly, the author - who is working on the case to get him released - gives little in the way of context, and seems to be more interested in having a laugh with Fritzl than asking the big questions. Including the most basic question, "How do you like being locked up?"
Fritzl's responses and the extracts from his writing have been translated, so some nuance might have been lost, but it's clear as day that he is a pure narcissist. He is the centre of his own universe, the star of his own show, starting the day with a gymnastics routine and a two hour breakfast spread in his cell.
Sickeningly, some of his comments about the crimes committed by some of the criminals he is imprisoned with imply that he doesn't believe himself to have really done anything wrong.
It gives strong Bouncing Back by Alan Partridge vibes
In the classic I'm Alan Partridge episode, The Talented Mr Alan, we learn that most of the anecdotes in his autobiography, Bouncing Back, end with "needless to say, I had the last laugh".
And as I read The Abysses of Josef F, I couldn't help but think that this was written in a similar, smug vein. Through the book, we see that Josef Fritzl - now 88 - is still crowing about his previous prowess in business, complex problem solving, money making, and his inescapable sex appeal, despite being locked up for the past fourteen years.
His sexual anecdotes are vile
Reminiscing about one business trip to the north of his native Austria, he speaks of a waitress who seduced him. "When I said goodbye, she smiled promisingly and slipped me her room number. An opportunity I could not pass up." He then adds that she opens the door wearing a negligee, drags him in to the room by his tie and has her wicked way with him. "Her desire was breath-taking. I quickly got going and pleased her in every way possible."
Personally, I think this could have come straight from the mouth of Jay from the InBetweeners.
Like a Carry On film salesmen, Fritzl has a woman in every port. He speaks of his Ghanaian mistress - who bore him a son - and mentions Indian women who he has three more children with.
As a rule, unless referring to his mother, he claims to have sex with almost every woman he encounters - and that they all beg him to satisfy them over and over again, sending love letters, and pouncing on him at every opportunity.
In other raunchy bits of the book he moans that he often had to stop his passionate romps so he could get home and tend to "my secret" - aka. his daughter and their offspring who may have been without food, water or electric for weeks as he galavanted around Austria selling building materials and satisfying lonely housewives.