Thursday, 16 October 2008


By Elie Wiesel

This is Part Two of a three part series of reviews sub-titled 'Apocalyptic Mess'.

It is also Part One of a series of five reviews of books I purchased for only $5 a book at the wonderful Book Grocer.

This is an account of the writer's time in a Nazi concentration camp.

I am not Jewish, or religious. I am not German, or Polish. I am not an ethnic supremacist, or belong to a persecuted minority. I am not a child of war, I have not lived in a war zone, I have not been sent to a war. I have not lost any member of my immediate family to a violent death.

Who am I to comment on this story?

I can only understand the holocaust in either political or philosophical terms. And of course by 'understand' I mean 'not understand'.

I'm just another voice who in exasperation, at the loss of anything else to add just says, "Lest we forget."

In my review of Blood Meridian I complained that, "It describes an implausible humanity, so detatched from the land and the laws of existance that it fails to inspire any form of reminisce. It is unrecognisable as coming from Earth. It is not our story."

That's why this book is so horrible. Because it is our story. It comes from Earth. People reasoned a genocide. They used the word 'solution'. Unlike the cartoon directionless psychopaths in Blood Meridian, these people had a reason for their actions. Some people, in time, made a reason for genocide.

I can't score this book. I won't.

This is not a book to read because you want to, it's a book to read because you have to.


squib said...

$5 for all of them? *feels ripped off*

The cover hasn't changed since 1988?

What can I say, this book is heartbreaking, mainly because like you said, it is our story and it's such a recent story that it really offers no hope for humanity becoming something better

It's interesting that, for Wiesel, the Holocaust becomes evidence of the non-existence of God. This resonates very strongly for me (I mean quite apart from the absurdity of believing in something that isn't there)

Believers would argue that God is not interventionist,(which brings to mind my oldest girl when she was little, refusing to get on a boat because, she said, 'I'm not THAT sort of Sea Scout'). Yes, so God's not THAT sort of God, to which I would say well erm... what's the point then?

Melba said...

Dear Perseus, you simply have to stop these reviews. I can't keep up with reading the ones you say we must.

I don't really mean that.

I'm too tired to get into a god discussion, much as I like them. Suffice to say I'll agree with you and with Squib too. In advance.

Melba said...

True Grit has arrived!

Oh yeah.

kiki said...

i totally agree.
i have never been more disturbed by a book, yet i couldn't put it down. i cried at some points too.

Elie Wiesel claims that he still can't sleep at night well because of his time in the camps.

Perseus said...

Squib: Yep, $5 each. He's mad! MAD! And yes, I got the feeling he was still religious despite it all, but his God was a personal God and nothing to do with the God of the Talmud.

Melba: I don;t know that I recommed it per se. It's like getting your driver's license. You sort of have to do it, but you can in theory not worry. I hope you enjoy True Grit. It ain't life changing, it's just very entertaining.

Kiki: Oh it was a page-turner alright.

Cath said...

But was it a page turner because of the content, or the way that it was written?... I think with books of this nature that even the worst of writing will deliver a good punch in the guts since the content is so horrifying that we overlook lapses in quality writing. (Of course this comes from a huge fan of this genre of literature.. and indeed the whole period of history)...

kiki said...


it's through the eyes of a child.

peaitlreiecnia said...

do you have any idea what I should be reading?

That was a blatant plea for recommendations.I recently finished exams so I have plenty of time to be breathing in the musty smell of well-turned pages. or new for that matter.

I am stuck in a book rut. please help.

Perseus said...

Umm, maybe read my book reviews and choose one! Or go through my Top 11 List. Good luck.