Thursday, January 2, 2014

First Book of 2014

My first book of 2014. Quite possibly the best book I have ever read. As someone who is fascinated and mortified by the atrocities of WWII, I am always trying to glean something from any story I read about that time. Whether it's an understanding or an added loathing. I like to see the varying points of view, no matter how difficult they may be.

This story certainly held many of those moments. I'm not going to give it a review, because, well, anyone who has read it probably already knows how fantastic this book is, and anyone else, should probably just read it to judge for themselves.

And if you read it and didn't like it, well, I have no words to say to that.

What I do want to point out is the incredible writing in this book. Whether the fabulous use of language came direct from the author or had some help from the editors at Knopf, it doesn't much matter. The language is breath-taking. Heart-rending. Powerful.

I've read much of concentration camps in Europe. I've visited one of the deportation camps in the Netherlands. I get choked up thinking about the things these poor souls endured. But I have never considered it in the way the author lays it out. One section that will always remain with me, I had to stop and reread many times simply because I couldn't believe how well it was written and how much emotion it invoked in a somewhat subtle yet direct way.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak 

Death's Diary: The Parisians

Summer came.
For the book thief, everything was going nicely.
For me, the sky was the color of Jews.

When their bodies had finished scouring the gaps in the door, their souls rose up. When their fingernails had scratched at the wood and in some cases were nailed into it by the sheer force of desperation, their spirits came toward me, into my arms, and we climbed out of those shower facilities, onto the roof and up, into eternity's certain breadth. They just kept feeding me. Minute after minute. Shower after shower. (pg. 349)

Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear.

I took them all away, and if ever there was a time I needed distraction, this was it. In complete desolation, I looked at the world above. I watched the sky as it turned from silver to gray to the color of rain. Even the clouds were trying to get away.

Sometimes I imagined how everything looked above those clouds, knowing without question that the sun was blond, and the endless atmosphere was a giant blue eye. (pg. 350)

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