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Search tags: Kurt-Vonnegut
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review 2018-04-14 19:42
An important book of its time
The Seventh Cross - Anna Seghers,James A. Galston,Kurt Vonnegut

Without doubt one of the main issues that often causes concerns when talking about the 2WW is just how much information the everyday German populace received or knew about what the Nazi party were involved in on a day to day basis. Here of course we are referring to genocide and the manipulation and control of not only the German people but those in neighbouring countries which soon fell under the control of jack booted terrorists and in particular the annihilation of groups who did not conform to the Nazi Aryan ideology. So digging deep within the storyline of The Seventh Cross we are almost exclusively given a glimpse into the thinking of the everyday German at that time and in particular their knowledge or lack of just what was happening on a daily basis. Did they know of the existence of concentration camps in the years immediately before war broke out? And if they did know were they supportive? Did they condone what was going on? Were they prepared to help individuals who were incarcerated and brutally beaten for merely condoning a particular belief?

 

Anna Seghers book is of particular significance as it a product of its time. It paints a picture of a country in change/turmoil but most importantly it is written from someone who actually lived through the rise of Nazism, the emergence of an elitist SS, the indoctrination of the very young into the Hitler Youth, the brown uniforms and fascist beliefs held by the SA whose official role was to protect party meetings, march in Nazi rallies and physically assault and intimidate political opponents. 7 men imprisoned in the fictitious Westhofen camp have escaped. George Heisler, a communist, is the main character and the story follows him negotiating the outlying countryside and taking shelter with those who were prepared to risk the wrath and torture of the Gestapo. As the story unfolds six of the escapees are gradually captured. The title of The Seventh Cross refers to the work of the camp commandant "Fahrenberg" where he has ordered the creation of seven crosses from nearby trees to be used when prisoners are returned not as a means of crucifixion but a subtler torture: the escapees are made to stand all day in front of their crosses, and will be punished if they falter. As in historical document this is an important work primarily because it portrays the mindset of the German people; would they adhere to the barbarous actions of a ruthless government in waiting or were they prepared to stretch out the hand of friendship and help the escapees.

 

I must confess that as a story I did not find the book as well written as I had hoped (that honour must certainly go to the wonderful Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada. and the dangerous actions that Otto Quangel takes when he discovers that his son has been killed on the Russian front) yet it is still an excellent account of its time, written by a lady who herself was a committed communist. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley and the publisher Little Brown Book Group UK, Virago for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

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review 2018-04-10 21:52
The First Vonnegut
Player Piano - Kurt Vonnegut

Well, this was disappointing.

 

Player Piano was not a good book, although everything about it seemed so promising at first – I hate it, when that happens! I really adore Vonnegut, therefore it is hard for me to admit, that he really did come a long way since his first novel and that he was not born the amazing writer I know him to be. Also, on the bright side – I am now convinced, that there is hope for every single amateur writer out there.

 

The whole story of a couple of very smart people planning a revolution and to overthrow the system (which I had a very hard time getting into right from the start) reminded me a lot of Superstoe and I am wondering if Mr. Borden was a fan of Vonnegut as well? Probably.

 

But instead of rambling and complaining about why I didn’t like Player Piano I tried to find something to take away from having read it. You know, always focus on the glass that is half-full. So I interpret it as a search for a purpose in life, because as comfortable as it is if you’re provided for concerning all your basic needs, it does not quite make life worth living per se (especially if machines are doing all the providing-work). Everybody needs a purpose in life and wants to feel useful in some way or another. The other thing I am taking away from Player Piano is the importance to just give a damn about what you are doing. I think this is something I (if not we all) ought to embrace more these days.

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text 2018-04-07 16:50
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut,Tony Roberts

I first read this one as a naive teenager and have not returned to it in the intervening 50 years. The only thing that I remember from 50 years ago was the ice-9 and its catastrophic results. This go-round, it was an entirely different read. The book is dated and yet it isn't; it seems shallow and silly until you realize just how deep it really goes. 

 

"We are gathered here, friends," he said, "to honor _lo Hoon-yera Mora-toorz tut Zamoo-cratz-ya_, children dead, all dead, all murdered in war. It is customary on days like this to call such lost children men. I am unable to call them men for this simple reason: that in the same war in which _lo Hoon-yera Mora-toorz tut Zamoo-cratz-ya_ died, my own son died. 

"My soul insists that I mourn not a man but a child. 

"I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame they _do_ die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays. 

"But they are murdered children all the same. 

"And I propose to you that if we are to pay our sincere respects to the hundred lost children of San Lorenzo, that we might best spend the day despising what killed them; which is to say, the stupidity and viciousness of all mankind. 

 

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text 2018-04-06 11:00
Reading progress update: I've read 105 out of 320 pages.
Player Piano - Kurt Vonnegut

"History has a way of showing us what, in retrospect, are very logical solutions to awful messes."

 

It took me quite some time (time equals pages in this case) to get into the story of Player Piano, but now I think, we're getting somewhere.

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text 2018-03-26 16:10
Audible 3 for 2 Sale
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut,Tony Roberts
All Creatures Great and Small - James Herriot,Christopher Timothy
The Cider House Rules (Audio) - John Irving,Grover Gardner

I've been shopping the sales again and managed to find three titles that might be enjoyable. I think I'll save James Herriott for last because the other two might be a bit depressing.

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