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Thread: what are you reading now?

  1. #2686
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    It bludgeons you.

    No, thats the wrong word.

    It drowns you, and you come up choking & shivering at the end.

    Sereny's interviews with Stangl are more like a parasite that worms it's way inside, leaving a realisation of the insidiousness of Nazisim & how culpable you might also have been in that time & place.

    Levi is transcendental.

    The problem is that this is a fractal atrocity with infinite layers of unimaginable suffering and grief - and each approach sacrifices something in the telling.

    I once spent about a week trying to cross reference Levi and Kogon's 'Theory and practices of hell' with Gilbert's 'Atlas of the Holocaust'. Its not only possible to pinpoint the descriptions of new arrivals in various camps, you can actually tell where they came from, and in some cases, even what their names were.

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  3. #2687
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    There's an article that makes a very strong case that Levi's suicide was, in fact an accident... it did something strange to my soul. I must've read it about a dozen times over the years.

  4. #2688
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    Here it is: http://bostonreview.net/diego-gambet...i-last-moments

    Levi's apartment block is about 2 miles from the site of Nietzsche's Turin horse 98 years earlier - another inexplicable moment of redemption in a morass of tragedy.

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  6. #2689

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    I get what you are saying about Gilbert's method.

    There are points in the book where I physically want to climb inside the pages to hammer nails in the heads of the Nazi murderers.

    At other moments I worry that I'm getting bored by the details. Then that's jolting.

    I think that is why it is an important book.

    It has a physical and mental effect.

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  8. #2690

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    I understand Gilbert's method, though - he was the first to attempt a comprehensive account, therefore tried to name as many people as possible. Names (lives, stories) mean something. So it can seem boring in the book or in 2017
    But it is not.
    Last edited by craner; 02-12-2017 at 02:02 AM.

  9. #2691
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    Don't know if either of you have read Dasa Drndic - a Croatian who has written about some of the WWII atrocities. Trieste is a phenomenal novel and account of the mass transportation and slaughter of Italy's Jewish population.
    There's a layering of detail that is remorseless, unflinching and utterly chilling. About half way through she lists 9,000 victims names - the effect could be trite but it isn't. Instead it is heartbreaking - I didn't quite know how to deal with all the names - do I read each one? If it hadn't worked I could just skim 40-odd pages but I didn't, in the end I found myself touching the pages, as it were a memorial, something physical.

    a link to a review: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/b...sa-drndic.html

    The only other writer recently to have a similar effect is Svetlana Alexievich - her oral histories of the genuinely gruesome recent Russian past has an accumulative effect - the dire, rotten world of state brutality, war, hardship and violence that these women have lived through. Second Hand Time is about 700 pages long but every page was utterly necessary.

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  11. #2692

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    Similarly there's a chapter in Gilbert's book which is basically given over to the notes of a Jewish grave digger for the first gas lorries of Chelmno, which was sribed for a historian in the Warsaw ghetto (one of the first accounts the Eastern Jewish ghetto communities received of the mass slaughter, and the moment they finally, fully understood that this what actually about the total destruction of European Jewry).

    I considered skipping this chapter, thinking: what could it add to the book in terms of detail and narrative to what I had read so far. Ended up being the most important chapter of all, in many ways.

  12. #2693
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    Thanks for that Jenks, will seek them out.

    Bizarrely coincidental that the book centres around Kurt Franz. He ranks alongside Stangl & Wirth as one of the worst monsters of the holocaust. What testimony there is from the extermination camps - Chełmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka - goes beyond horrific into the surreal. Wirth in his white uniform trampling inmates with his white horse, the giant grills Stangl used to destroy exhumed bodies, and Franz, setting his dog Barry the St. Bernard to bite the buttocks and genitals of prisoners.

    Wirth was killed by partisans near Trieste. The other two died in prison.

    I dont know what happened to Barry.
    Last edited by droid; 04-12-2017 at 10:59 PM.

  13. #2694
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    I think the most chilling section in Shoah is the interview with Franz Suchomel. Here he is singing the Treblinka song, written by Franz.


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    Shame Josef wasn't around back then. He could've talked some sense into them.

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  17. #2697
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    Reading 'The Tempest' in fits and starts

    I'm always reading shakespeare with my forehead creased like i'm doing a difficult poo, trying to feel the shiver of poetic rapture. sadly, it still feels like a sort of work, esp. with all the immense plaudits re: shakespeare you encounter. whereas dickens, say, or austen (or chekhov/tolstoy/flaubert in translation) are easy to read and their brilliance easy to access. shakespeare i find is hard to read due to both the writing itself and the reputation it enjoys.

    However, I am beginning to enjoy it as I plough dutifully through it. it's very reminiscent of 'midsummer's...' what with all the cheeky faeries and inversions of social roles etc. etc.

    The two moments of genuine poetic response on my part have come from Ariel's famous 'full fathom five thy father lies...' song and, weirdly, this line courtesy of Antonio:

    'till newborn chins. Be rough and razorable'

    I was also appreciative of how Shakey shows Prospero's tyrannical neediness in the bit where he's telling Miranda about how his brother fucked him over and they ended up on the island, etc.

  18. #2698

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    The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism: Origins, Magic, and Secret Societies by Patrick Lepetit

    staggering scope of analysis, teases out so many threads of interest ranging in chronology & themes but seriously dense style of writing. A goldmine for info on Breton, Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington, Unica Zurn & Ithell Colquhoun, pre-christian myths of the Celtic world, Greek headfucks, and by extraction & application the themes & symbols & Twin Peaks make a lot more sense now even if Lynch isnt discussed directly.

    Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

    giving me copy to someone as a small gesture of thanks so have had to read it in the interval.....such a motley parade of degenerates cant believe it hasnt been commissioned as screen adaptation but probably un-filmable. Regeneration thru violence, war & divination - "war is God", landscapes surveyed with a painter's eye, unspeakable horrors, Judge Holden & Glanton's cast of reprobates plus *that* ending.

  19. #2699
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwmbran-city View Post
    Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

    giving me copy to someone as a small gesture of thanks so have had to read it in the interval.....such a motley parade of degenerates cant believe it hasnt been commissioned as screen adaptation but probably un-filmable. Regeneration thru violence, war & divination - "war is God", landscapes surveyed with a painter's eye, unspeakable horrors, Judge Holden & Glanton's cast of reprobates plus *that* ending.
    James Franco was threatening to do it a while ago. He made a short film of one scene about 5 years back - its on YT.

    I hope it never gets adapted. One of the pinnacles of 20th century literature and possibly my favourite book of all time.

  20. #2700
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    I read BM years ago, but as far as I recall it seemed like the sort of book which would be pointless to film because so much of its charge comes from the language. Whereas No Country for Old Men was all action, and therefore made a great movie.

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