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View Diary: Books Go Boom!   'Elizabeth Costello' - J. M. Coetzee on the Problem of Evil (54 comments)

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  •  I'm curious. You've avoided a few books, saying (11+ / 0-)

    that they were too dark or ugly to enjoy. I inferred you were on the squeamish side. Now I'm curious what hard subjects, or styles, you're fine with, and which are too much.

    Sorry for the slow response. I just went back through your diaries, but couldn't find the one I wanted. I'm pretty sure you had one on "What's a deal-breaker in a book for you?"

    One thing I'd guess is, like me, you want your tale (fiction or non-) to feel true.

    Your take on the holocaust makes sense. Though I've read little of it, except Man's Search for Meaning. I'll read anything from a psychological bent.

    But there's something dangerously compelling about the Nazis. I've met a couple of people quite obsessed with them, couldn't get enough Nazi books. Seemed creepy, to me.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 06:29:38 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Yes...each person has their own list (10+ / 0-)

      of what is just too much.

      When a character is just beaten down over and over in fiction, I can't stand it...Lion King, Little Mermaid, Amadeus...that kind of thing.

      Or when all the characters are so unpleasant.  I just don't need to get into their heads of have them in mine.  But some people would say to me that I read many things that they cannot...mysteries that are dark.

      Here are a few of the true books that I have read about WW II:

      Between Silk and Cyanide...Leo Marks

      And There Was Light: Autobiography of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance … Jacques Lusseyran    

      my bookflurries review of And There Was Light:

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Spy…Virginia Hall by Judith Pearson

      An American Heroine in The French Resistance: The Diary and Memoir of Virginia D’Albert-Lake edited by Judy Barrett Litoff

      Resistance:A Woman’s Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France…Agnes Humbert 1894-1963

      Resistance: France 1940-1945…Blake Ehrlich

      Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintyre

      A Higher Call : An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander   (Charlie Brown, Franz Stigler)

      Defying Hitler…Sebastian Haffner memoir Germany 1914-1934 (39)

      Memoir of Hungary by Sandor Marai

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Holocaust stories:

      Schindler’s Legacy... Elinor J. Brecher

      Schindler’s List…Thomas Keneally  

      Conscience and Courage...Eva Fogelman

      Night by Elie Wiesel
         Dawn

      Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

      All But My Life...and the sequel
      The Hours After...Gerda Weissman Klein

      And Yet, I Am Here…Halina Nelken

      In My Hands...Irene Opydyke and Armstrong

      In My Brother’s Image...Eugene Pogany

      The Seamstress...Sarah Tuvel Bernstein

      Tell Me Another Morning…Zdena Berger

      Fighting Auschwitz...Jozef Garlinski
         Survival of Love (his wife)

      Kazik, Memoirs of a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter...Simha Roten

      Bravest Battle: 28 Days of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Dan Kurzman

      I Will Bear Witness II ...1942-45 Diary of Victor Klemperer

      Nazi Officer’s Wife...Edith Beer

      The Choice...Irene Eber

      Behind Enemy Lines...Marthe Conn with Wendy Holden

      Sala’s Gift…Ann Kirschner

      We Remember the Holocaust...David Adler

      The Righteous...Martin Gilbert

      Twentieth Train...Marion Schreiber

      The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

      Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 06:55:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wow. You're a WWII expert. That's a lot of books. (8+ / 0-)
        When a character is just beaten down over and over in fiction, I can't stand it... . . .Or when all the characters are so unpleasant.
        It's very hard on the reader, to get dropped into a lake of darkness, and then get their head held underwater. In fiction, it's far more bearable when you have a few sympathetic characters (at least one!), a few small triumphs for the hero/ine, and a little hope left at the end.

        And I like my darkness to have some meaning in it - at the very least, to be toughening some characters, not destroying all their souls.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 07:51:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  For Me, "Sophie's Choice" (4+ / 0-)

        (pub. 1979) was that most difficult novel to read about the evils of the Holocaust, but read it I did.  Perhaps because it was so traumatic, I remember little about the book (and haven't re-screwed up my courage to read it again) except the eponymous nature of the subject.

        William Styron's artistry is on every page.  But it is so disturbing that one can't help thinking that it contributed to his own mental problems, or that his personal struggle of mind informed his novel.

        To me, it remains the ultimately devastating work of fiction.  Reading it is best described as experiencing emotional scorched earth.  Gutting.

        Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

        by Limelite on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 12:51:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know the book or the movie, but I've heard (4+ / 0-)

          what her actual choice was about. Yes, gutting in itself.

          'Styron connects the onset of his depression with his sudden termination of his lifelong alcohol use, and argues that his condition was likely exacerbated by careless prescription of the drug Halcion.'

          Yet you raise an interesting point, supporting Elizabeth Costello's argument:

          William Styron's artistry is on every page.  But it is so disturbing that one can't help thinking that it contributed to his own mental problems, or that his personal struggle of mind informed his novel.
          It seems entirely possible that an author can handle the worst darkness deftly and clearly, and still pay a huge toll for going there. It looks to me like Styron, Capote (and others, no doubt) have written very dark and real books, and then carried those demons with them for the rest of their lives.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 01:06:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I haven't read "Sophie's Choice," (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brecht, cfk, Limelite, RiveroftheWest

          only seen the film.  The end of the film felt a bit unfair to me, like a sucker punch.  I don't doubt that such a thing could take place, but it's never sat right with me.  Perhaps adding horror where there was horror enough.

      •  Wow, I think I've read a lot about (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, cfk, RiveroftheWest

        the Holocaust, but I haven't read most of your list, cfk!

        Btw, the books of Primo Levi should not be missed.  He was a great writer, first about his time in Auschwitz, and then about many other subjects.  Levi was a chemist, and the first book I read of his was The Periodic Table, a collection of short stories dealing with several of the elements.

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