Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tactile Obituaries

"Like Sherlock Holmes, Heydrich plays the violin. (He plays it better than does the fictional detective, however.) Also like Sherlock Holmes, he conducts criminal inquiries. Except that where Holmes seeks the truth, Heydrich just makes it up." - Laurent Binet, HHhH

Yesterday was the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the day/night the nazis incited people in Germany to vandalize and burn Jewish shops and synagogues, and to attack Jews. The nazis were absolute maniacs, really. 

I wouldn’t have remembered the date (in fact I forgot) except this morning we went to take some photos of Frankfurt’s ‘Stolpersteine,’ and found a grouping with melted wax all around, and realized someone must have burned candles there yesterday in memory. Stolpersteine, which literally means stumbling stones, are somber, subtle plaques laid in sidewalks in front of houses of Jews who met their deaths at nazi hands. They’re tactile obituaries. You can see my small album of them here

As long as we’re on the topic, I finished the non-fiction novel HHhH and thought it was terrific. It’s hard to recommend to just anyone because it’s best to be a little familiar with the figure of Reinhard Heydrich and his assassination to appreciate. But even Wikipedia could equip a reader sufficiently. 

The story is horrible and serious, but the narrator/author navigates you through with a light touch. Believe me, I loved the book, but that would be my one complaint - while most of the time it worked well, the author occasionally erred on the side of the flip. 

As meta-fiction the author is very in the book, which pretty much goes ‘here’s this event I’ve been obsessed with my whole life, which happened in my favorite country on earth, and the two or three guys who are my heroes, who set off to kill Heydrich, the devil incarnate, and how they succeed, and it’s all worth it despite the horrendous consequences, and I’m going to try to tell the story while being extremely self-conscious about it.’ 

It’s surely hard to find balance with the meta-fiction approach, but there were times I thought he hit the wrong note. Like he didn’t know when to stop yapping. Anyway, I’ve probably just turned any potential readers off to this book. Oh well, it was great, and I’m happy to keep it all to myself anyway.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I love your meta-fictional review. And thanks for the stumbling stones.

Related Posts with Thumbnails