In Philipp Tingler’s literary diary, Ich bin ein Profi (I’m a professional), the reader follows the first-person narrator to a meeting of highly-gifted people in Berlin and to the Ingeborg-Bachmann awards ceremony in Klagenfurt. It also describes the hero’s everyday life of shopping sprees, parties and work as an author in Zurich. The reader encounters characters and places that are familiar from Hübsche Versuche, Philipp Tingler’s debut novel and the Swiss literary scene’s great first-novel success in summer 2000. The reader is there when the diary writer struggles with meter maids, parking spot worries and other threats to his existence. The reader is there when the narrator returns to his hometown of Berlin, experiencing the nightlife and revisiting his past. And the reader is there when the diary’s hero participates in the Bachmann reading competition in Klagenfurt and confronts the mask-like quality of the literary scene, “for which beauty is a character flaw and irony is not even recognized when one is hit over the head with it.”
The narrator observes his fellow-men with dissecting keenness. The author’s ironic distanced view targets society and its different types of people—from the staff of the foreign office to the representatives of the literary business world to the public in the “second-rate nightclubs of the lowest order.” The author also targets himself—tense and torn between idleness and a bourgeois bad conscience, between his luxury needs and concerns about his living standard, between looking up to the greats and feeling disdain for mediocrity and the fashion world. This hero is as far away from "Generation X" as he is from "Generation Golf." But the pleasures of expression triumph over all of life’s adversities.
The narrative style is dominated by distance and montage, by spirit, humor and irony—just what one needs to survive as the offspring of a slightly over-strung upper middle-class family from Zehlendorf. The scheme of the diary is continually interrupted and satirized by insertions of drama, brief stories, memories or reflections. The author, in a virtuoso mastery of language, leaps from classical heights to pointed situational comedy and easy dialogue, switching rapidly between melancholy and sarcasm, criticism and fantasy. Linked to but independent of the diary, the illustrations appear as black and white photographs, snapshots from the author’s life that are accompanied by captions.