Testimony, Scott Turow, author; Wayne Pyle, narrator
I usually enjoy Turow’s books, but this one went off on too many tangents, and contained too much foolish dialogue between characters that did nothing to enhance the novel. It had far too many romantic, sexual interludes which were distracting and caused the plot to have a lack of continuity. It was often confusing, requiring rereading. It took almost ¾ of the book before it actually held my interest, and were it not for the fact that I have liked the author’s writing style in the past, I would not have finished it. Because it was based on incidents that did not, but might have taken place during the very real Serbian/Croatian war, if the author had stayed on message, the book would have been far more interesting and way shorter. In the end, the novel left me with the feeling that nothing would be resolved, although the true facts would be revealed. It was as if the author prepared me for the coming of Book Two!
In brief, the book is about attorney, Bill ten Boom. He is going through a mid-life crisis in his mid fifties. His marriage is over, his children are pretty well grown, and he needs a change. When the opportunity comes to pick up stakes and begin anew, he takes it and heads to The Hague to investigate a possible war crime. It is a crime of great magnitude, concerning the massacre of an entire Roma village. The genocide seems to have been covered up, and is only now being investigated.
The characters are colorful, straying from the mainstream. Some are deceitful and manipulative, some innocent, some savvy and sexy. Some are even sincere. However, all appear to be flawed in some way. Even America does not come away pure as the driven snow in this novel. Some characters are intended by name or action to remind the reader of the real Bosnian conflict and to make some characters resemble real life villains and war criminals like a supposed Serb leader named Laza Kajevic who is easily substituted for the real life Radovan Karadzic. In one of the flights of fancy that the author takes the reader, Boom, whose heritage is Dutch, discovers surprising secrets about his parents’ past during World War II, as he investigates the case. Well researched, the book can be entertaining, and all in all, if the reader sticks to the book, it will be a fairly interesting read.
“[…] but I feel I must tell you that originally, we were Lusitanians, and then came the Romans and the Celts, and then came the Arabs, so what sort of race are we Portuguese in a position to celebrate? The Portuguese Race, replied the editor-in-chief, and I am sorry to say Pereira, that I don’t like the tone of your objection, we are Portuguese, we discovered the world, we achieved the greatest feats of navigation the world over, and when we did this, in the 16thcentury, we were already Portuguese, that is what we are and that is what you are to celebrate, Pereira.”
In “Pereira Declares” by Antonio Tabucchi.
I read this in a Portuguese translation from the Italian more than ten years ago, if memory serves me right, I haven't come across anything quite like it and I still have a place in my heart for portly, perspiring Pereira with his omelets and his quiet, but subversive, decency. This time, this wonderful translation by Patrick Creagh just made my day.
In a narrative that does not want a puzzle, Tabucchi uses a very similar resource to the one used by Isaac Bashevis Singer: that of telling alien stories supposedly collected from conversations with real people, and not hiding it in the book's writing. “Pereira Declares” is a book that walks slowly, seeking to situate the scenario through which the characters walk, without extending the descriptions but worried to leave the reader with significant details about the characters, as, for example, the custom of Pereira to take Lemonades and the same path every day.
If you're into European Literature, read on.
It took me a long time to read this book since my heath issues often make it hard for me to focus. This book was especially difficult to stay focused on for the first half or so. I wasn't able to really look up all of the references or see what else I could find. I am going to hold onto the book for a while and hopefully be able to do that.
This book was interesting and there were some things I found surprising but I read this book thinking specifically about the people that I know that are set in their belief that God is not real and Jesus was just a man. I already believe in God so I was hoping for something that would be very convincing for someone who doesn't believe, at all. I felt that the fact that many of the experts got their education from faith-based schools would cause those people that don't believe to feel those experts were biased. Also, since this was approached as a "case" being investigated and presented to a jury I was waiting for the cross witness or the other attorney (disbeliever) to ask their questions of the expert witnesses. The author does ask the experts what they think about some things critics have said or written in their books etc., but these things seemed pretty mellow most of the time or completely out there. I know there are some scholars on both sides that have had some intense debates that would be more interesting to witness for me. A lot of the time the experts were giving their opinions and the author seemed to accept them too easily when I know other people would still have doubts and questions. Of course, this book is about the author's personal experience and how he went about this process for himself and each person is encouraged to do their own investigation.